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VM inspiration: Wisley's Bonsai autumn

This autumn in the UK has been deemed the best for a decade. An absence of storms and gales means leaves have gradually lost their chlorophyll - which makes them green - revealing the yellows, pinks, oranges, rusts, reds and plums which are normally concealed, without being prematurely ripped from the nation’s deciduous trees by high winds.

In fact, the UK Autumn this year has been much like that of the Mediterranean and Asia. The weather remains dry there, and just gradually becomes colder. This enables customers to wear chic winter-whites, which would become sadly mud-splattered in the usual damp climate of the UK.

At Wisley, the Royal Horticultural Society garden near Woking in Surrey, the fall is currently not so much a fall as a fabulous spectrum of autumnal colour. Among the many amazing trees and shrubs displaying their autumnal wardrobes is an avenue of outdoor bonsai.

Bonsai are the tiny trees skillfully pruned to maintain the look of a full-scale tree in miniature. The miniature is a well-established trope of VM, as are changing seasons as a reminder of new fashion needs and wants.

There are many bonsai enthusiasts world-wide and, for independent stores, contact with a local group might result in the loan of specimens for VM display.

Assuming a store has enough natural light a bonsai tree needs relatively little care for a short while, if placed on a table in-store or a closed-back window. To grow a fine specimen, including the beautiful Japanese beech above, takes years of effort, and the owner would have to be assured that the tree would not be damaged by curious customers. However, these examples survive many curious fingers at Wisley, suggesting this is perfectly possible. A bonsai group might welcome an opportunity to be credited in-store.

Add a spectrum of coloured felt leaf shapes, cut in the shape of oak, acer, plane, and lime tree leaves scattered across folded autumnal merchandise adjacent to the tree, to create an instant autumn feel.