But any garden, however small, can have its share of fiery foliage at this time of year. The trick is simply to plant the right things.
The best of the lot for tiny plots are Japanese maples.
Their fine and filigree foliage is interesting from spring to autumn but it is in this season that many of them take on a brilliance that is absent in other garden plants, their foliage turning anything from pale yellow through orange to bright scarlet before they fall.
What acers (the botanical name for Japanese maples) need is soil that does not dry out, a spot sheltered from winds and dappled shade.
These three requirements will prevent them from succumbing to leaf scorch, which can happen in exposed sites and dry soil.
Many of the viburnums will colour up their foliage before it falls. Viburnum opulus has the added benefit of shiny red berries that zing out on even the dullest day – and they last for weeks on the skeletal bushes once the leaves have fallen.
For small gardens, where a tree is needed to provide height without getting out of hand, the snowy mespilus – Amelanchier lamarckii – is a good choice. In spring the leaves unfurl in an attractive shade of bronze and the white blossom opens at the same time.
During summer the tree is, admittedly, not much to look at but it will provide stature, a background to brighter summer flowers.
Come the autumn, though, it has a second season of glory when the oval leaves turn brilliant shades of orange and rosy red before they fall.
If shrubs and trees are all too large, then one border perennial in particular is at its brilliant best in autumn.
The Chinese lantern flower – Physalis alkekengi – produces miniature paper lanterns of bright orange, which last until long after the leaves have fallen.
It can be a bit rampant once established but for providing colour in autumn, it simply has no equal. What’s more, it seems happy to grow in almost any soil and any situation except for the darkest shade. Give it a go and brighten up your life this October.
Don’t miss Alan’s gardening column today and Tip Of The Day every weekday in the Daily Express. For more information on his range of gardening products visit alantitchmarsh.com