When it comes to garden plants autumn can be one of the most stunning seasons. Not only are most garden borders still bursting with late flowering perennials, but also as the light changes and the temperature starts to drop towards winter, garden plants are starting their preparation for slumber. This can take different forms for different plants, many will lose their leaves or die back completely, but even failsafe garden evergreens can start to show different colour hues as autumn progresses.
Autumn doesnt need to spell the end of garden pleasures. You simply need to look at what youve got and use it to its best potential. Take the patio – An hour or so of late summer sun facilitates morning coffee on the patio, lunch al fresco or evening drinks. If the summer planters are past their best then give them a make over or move them somewhere to finish their finale and plant up a tub or two with some autumn bedding. Make the most of any sunny hours and use overcast days to tidy, prune and prepare the garden for the season ahead.
Flower and Foliage Power
Autumn bedding is widely available at garden centres and nurseries during September. Look out for vibrant pink hardy cyclamen, ornamental cabbages, dianthus, pansies and pretty violas all of which will make an instant colourful display.
Dont disregard the foliage plants though. This year one of the star performers at the RHS Flower Shows were the Heucheras. After some clever breeding by the plant experts there are a wonderful array of foliage colours in these beautiful plants. Use them creatively in contemporary containers and within the garden borders to create a striking and colourful display. Heucheras are useful for shady areas of the garden, they are hardy and most have attractive flower spikes in early summer and form a domed shaped cushion of leaves. Plant them at the front of the flower border too for colourful cushions of foliage that remain all winter and burst into life with spikes bearing dainty pale summer flowers that dance in the breeze.
Other great plants for autumn bedding include the evergreen herbs such as thyme, sage, rosemary and even semi evergreen plants such as lavender. Use these for contrasting textures in containers and underplant them with a variety of spring flowering bulbs such as crocus to extend the season of interest. You can continue to harvest the edible herbs as required over the winter. You can also replant these herbs into the garden in spring or replant into fresh compost in a larger container as they mature.
Ready for planting
Gardeners can really plant to their hearts content this autumn. After a wet and warm summer the soil is in the very best condition to encourage roots of newly planted trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs. If you plan to plant anything this season do it sooner rather than later, the longer the roots have to establish into the warm, moist garden soil, the better they will thrive through the winter to give a fabulous display in spring.
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