The season has suddenly changed and everything is feeling beautifully autumnal isn’t it. This is the latest in our series of Guest Blogs, with another great one from Renée Canter, also known as The Girl Who Gardens:
When we think of colour in landscape our thoughts turn immediately to Autumn first. The leaves turning all shades from red through orange to yellow on the trees and then carpeting the ground.
Autumn is nearly here and is actually the best time of year for planting as the soil is warm from the Summer but damper from the cooler Autumn temperatures. So now is a great time to be thinking about what plants or shrubs you could add to your garden to bring you some of that Autumn colour this year and next. Here are 10 of my favourites:
Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Herbstonne’)
These bright yellow daisy-like flowers can reach up to 2m high so are best planted at the back of a bed enmasse to get the full effect. They prefer full sun, flower into September (maybe even October) and might need some support to keep them upright.
Ice Maiden (Sedum spectabile ‘Brilliant’)
This looks like a succulent with its grey-green leaves. Its flat heads of pink flowers is loved by bees and butterflies and they flower from August to November and look great left as seedheads over the Winter, with them only needed to be cut down in March time. This is such an under-rated plant but brings great structure to the garden from May right through to March so works really hard! It’s almost indestructible too and doesn’t mind a bit of shade.
Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia)
These are a 70s classic and I’m on a 1 woman mission to bring them back to our gardens as they are beautiful. There is a huge variety of colours; their tall spikes come in red, orange or yellow and sit high above evergreen strap-like leaves. Plant them in groups of 3s in your borders to give height, impact and a wow factor! They don’t mind a bit of shade and can grow up to 1.3m tall. Just cut back the flower spikes when they get too tatty over Winter.
Sneezeweed (Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’)
These dark copper red daisy-like flowers are beautiful when planted in groups. They reach 1.25m high; prefer full sun and baby plants might need some protection from slugs and snails! Any daisy-like flowers will keep on flowering if you deadhead them.
Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides)
Grasses have become very fashionable over the last few years and I love the evergreen ones that give interest all year round. This one creates a compact low mound with long-lasting brush like flowers from July onwards. It prefers full sun but all you have to do is remove any dead foliage in the Spring.
Golden Oats (Stipa gigantena)
This evergreen grass can reach 2.5m tall. It grows into clumps of green-grey leaves with arching stems of oat-like flowers from July. This one moves in the wind really gracefully and is stunning in the evening sun. Again it prefers full sun and you just comb through it in the Spring to take out any dead foliage.
Bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis)
This shrub has aromatic grey-green leaves and beautiful lilac-blue flowers from August onwards. It sits beautifully in a mixed border and the bees and butterflies love it. Prune back the growth in the Spring for new growth and flowers that year.
Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)
Although these small trees lose their leaves in the Winter they do give an amazing Autumn show, they come in a huge range of colours; my favourites are the mahogany reds and the acid greens. New growth in the Spring is beautifully coloured but it is the Autumn when the leaf colours change that is incredible. They don’t mind sun or shade but you need to protect them from the wind. You can also keep them in a container; I’ve got one I’ve had for 14 years (in gradually bigger pots) on my patio that is still making me smile.
Smoke Bush (Cotinus ‘Grace’)
This is a large purple leaved shrub that produces plumes of fluffy purple/pink flowers in the Summer. The leaves turn a brilliant red in the Autumn before they fall. Shrubs are out of fashion, but they are easy to look after and there is such a huge variety that they give us interest all year round.
There is a huge variety of these small trees that are great for any size garden. They work so hard for us giving us Spring Blossom and then fruit in the Autumn, some of the fruit are just ornamental but there are some that be used for making jelly! They can reach up to 7m high and when you plant them incorporate lots of organic compost and stake them well.
TOP TIP: You may have a hunch that you’re not happy with how your garden is looking but can’t put a finger on it. Take photos every month and they will show you where there are gaps in colour or interest and that should help you decide what you need to change and where.
Renée is also known as The Girl who Gardens. She provides planting and garden design advice and aims to make dream gardens a reality for families in Surrey and the surrounding areas.
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