Autumn is the time of year when the leaves have begun to turn and staunch garden stalwarts become a riot of colour.

Chelsea Physic Garden has an absolutely stunning autumn palette. Particular highlights are the rich vermillion of Nyssa sylvatica, the subtle yellow drifts of Acer cappadocicum 'Rubrum' and the delicate, dancing elegance of Taxodium distichum.

Have you ever stopped to think what causes such fabulous colour displays?

For most of the year, the majority of leaves are green.  This is because they contain chlorophyll which captures light energy to make food. Chlorophyll masks the natural yellow and orange pigments of the leaf. In autumn as the nights grow longer it starts to break down, revealing the colouring underneath. The plants that produce deep reds are a different story.  The red pigments are called anthocyanins and are manufactured from sugars trapped in the leaf after the chlorophyll breaks down.

The best weather for autumn colour is cold but not freezing nights and bright days which, together, enhance the really vivid colours we all love. There have certainly been some truly majestic autumnal colours at Chelsea Physic Garden this year.

By Joe Bassett, Gardener and Glasshouse Manager