Hydrangeas are still looking good, and most acquire richer colours as the flowers age. H. paniculata Tardiva and Kyushu are especially useful as their cone-shaped panicles are at their best in September. As with other hydrangeas, the harder they are pruned, the later and larger the flowerheads will be, and the pruning will also keep the plants compact.
Hydrangea quercifolia also has conical panicles of creamy-white flowers in late summer. Its leaves are most distinctive, just like large oak leaves, having excellent autumn colours of yellows, reds and purples.
The Paper-bark maple, Acer griseum, is a small tree that can be recommended for all 12 months of the year, as it has a smooth, chocolate, peeling bark. In autumn, its silvery-backed leaves go a bright rich red. It is ideal in a bed of azaleas.
Many azaleas have good autumn tints, as even the evergreen ones loose quite a few leaves in autumn. The deciduous ones have a real second season of colour as they turn rich reds and yellows. Az. luteum is as reliable as any, is really tough and had masses of scented yellow flowers back in May.
Perhaps surprisingly, some rhododendron buds open in autumn, having failed to become dormant for next spring. Yellow Hammer always has a good show of its small, tubular, yellow flowers on a small-leaved, upright bush and yet sets so many buds that there is always a profusion of flower for next spring.