Grass Roots – Is Your Garden Doing Autumn This Year?

Autumn is just as colourful and interesting as Spring so if you think your garden is a bit bare or boring at the moment, don’t worry because I shall give you 4 ways to extend the colour and interest in your garden for next year.

I’ve found that one of the re-occurring problems my company, Yorkshire Garden Designer, comes across in the gardens we are asked to help with is that they are very much focused on the flowers of Spring and Summer and by the time autumn comes around, there is not much of interest going on. The flowers are all gone, leaving behind only ragged leaves and a bare border.

Late flowering perennials
Put in late flowering perennials such as Rudbeckias, Asters, Sedums, Persicaria, Echinacea, Crocosmia, Achillea, Anemone x hybrida and many more. Depending on how the weather has been during the year, these plants will start flowering at the end of July/beginning of August and carry on until either the wind or the frost gets them, which sometimes only happens in October.

Put in plants that have berries. Well known examples are Pyracantha, roses, hollies and cotoneastesr but there are also many plants that are not so well known that have wonderful berries in the autumn if you do a little research. My personal favourites are Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade’ which has a red seed capsule which opens to reveal a vivid orange seed and Viburnum opulus ‘Xanthocarpum’ which has an almost translucent orange berry which lasts on the bush well into the winter. Sorbus cashmiriana has white berries tinged with pink and Clerodendrum trichotomum var. fargesii which has startling blue berries backed with pinkish magenta lobes so there is quite a range to choose from.

Plants such as grasses are also great value in the autumn garden as their seed heads last well into the winter even after the rest of the plant has died back. Other plants with good seed heads include Phlomis ruselliana (Turkish sage), Acanthus mollis (Bears breeches), Sedum specatbile (Ice plant), fennel, teasels and poppies. By leaving the seed heads on the plant you create interest for yourself in 2 ways because not only is the actual seed head itself of structural interest and attractive to look at, especially if it has a glitter of frost on it, but it is an excellent food source for wild life and that is always interesting to watch too.

Finally you can have plants that have good autumn colour in their foliage. All deciduous plants go through the same ‘end of season’ process but some do it in a more flamboyant way than others. Acers, Amelanchier, Cercidiphylum, Euonymus alatus, Quercus rubra (red oak) give spectacular displays. The great news is that most of the plants I’ve mentioned above have other attributes earlier in the year so it is really easy to extend the interest and colour in your garden with a little forethought and patience. So this year, make a note of the plants that are looking good now, so that you can extend the ‘wow’ factor in your garden next year.