The autumn garden can be the best time of the year. Just because the summer is over, it doesn’t mean that your outside space need look forlorn or devoid of colour. There are plenty of beautiful flowers that give you a boost in September, October, November and beyond. Not to mention the amazing show that is happening amongst trees and the everlasting colours to be found in foliage.
If your outdoor space is looking desperately dull, it might benefit from a few, carefully placed containers near your entrance, along the circulation routes and close to your windows. Colour is uplifting and some plants shine during the autumn. Here's a selection of some of the best...
Pansies and viola – plant as soon as you can, preferably during September, so that these little plants can grow strong roots and begin to flower whilst there is still warmth in the soil. They can flower all through the winter and take you through into spring. Those planted late have less chance of soldiering on through the frost.
Cyclamen – these little beauties burst into life in a flurry of pink, purple and white in autumn. They are Mediterranean plants that like cool, damp conditions and they will fade away during the summer, ready for action the following year. They are at their best when planted under evergreen trees and shrubs so that the colour will shine where you need it the most.
Autumn and winter flowering heathers – Erica varieties like free-draining soil in light shade and they can look stunning when planted in rock gardens and to the front of borders. Calluna, or ling heathers prefer acid soil in full sun. Heathers seem to have fallen out of fashion in recent years but they are worthy of space, particularly against stones and boulders where their pink, purple and white flowers provide a warming autumn glow.
Then there are the garden mums – Chrysanthemum species. These are perennials belonging to the daisy family and they create a flowering mound in autumn which looks stunning in a pot. People tend to treat them as annuals but they can be planted out in the garden for years of extravagant autumn colour.
Ornamental grasses – swathes of gently swaying grasses are at their best right now. In fact, there’s nothing better than plumes of grass flowerheads to lighten the soul. Some grasses measure just a few centimetres high whilst others tower to three metres and more. The seed heads can be pink, purple, cream and white. Some look like lambs’ tails and others look more like giant plumes on a circus horse’s head. What’s not to love about these remarkable plants?
Heuchera – well-behaved groundcover plants that look equally good in a border or a pot. They are loved for their foliage colour rather than flowers. Experiment with combinations of lime green against purple and yellow against red – Heuchera are plants that look great all year round provided they are given enough shade. Who needs flowers when you have amazing leaves?
Acers – so many trees provide brilliant autumn colour but none are quite so breath taking as Acers. According to their variety, Acer leaves turn crimson, purple, bronze and brilliant yellow. The foliage offers a palette of colours that is unrivalled by any other plant.