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Jewels of the Autumn Garden

Jewels of the Autumn Garden

Autumn is a perfect time for adding new plants and bulbs to your garden because the combination of high moisture and warm soil create the right conditions for good strong root growth and healthy plants.  Your garden need not lose colour because summer is over. There are many brightly coloured hardy perennials and bedding plants to choose to keep the colour going at this time of year.

All the edible fruiting trees Apples, Pears and Plums as well as the ornamental Crab Apples and berrying trees like Mountain Ash and Cotoneaster take on lovely colours now in leaf colour as well as the fruit. Evergreens like Photinia ‘Red Robin’, the fiery autumn leaves of Japanese Acers, Berberis, Liquidambar and the white coloured bark of the Silver Birches all contribute to the more muted autumn palette of the garden.

Evergreen shrubs like the Spotted Laurel, Pyracantha, Pernettya and Symphorocarpus with their lovely bright berries also provide food for the birds and other small mammals.

Autumn bedding plants are now available including hardy Pansies and Violas, Bellis, Cyclamen, Wallflowers, Solanum, Forget-Me-Nots, Sweet William to name just a few.  All will give months of colour well into the winter months.  Underplant them with Bulbs which will grow over winter and follow giving even more colour next Spring.   There’s a whole range to choose from the classic Daffodils and Tulips to dwarf Irises, Crocus, Scilla, Muscari, Summer Snowflake and Hyacinth.

Your Summer containers will now be coming to an end as the light levels diminish so time to empty and start again with a new display.   Be sure to save and overwinter some of your more precious bedding plants like geraniums by taking cuttings and bringing them indoors on windowsills or into a greenhouse.  Next refresh or completely refill your containers with a free draining compost like Jacks Magic with extra grit added or John Innes No. 2 with extra grit.  You will need a container at least 45cm wide for growing different plants in an arrangement together. When choosing your first plant look for something that will give some height at the back. Grasses are good to use here or Phormiums.  Look to contrast leaf shapes and colours like the dark upright leaves of Phormium ‘Plats Black’ with the rounded low growing and orangey leaves of Heuchera ‘Marmalade’.  Complete with a silver shrub such as Lavender ‘Platinum Blonde’ to keep your container looking vibrant through winter.

Other plants to try include Leucathoe ‘Scarletta’, Cotoneaster dammerii or Cotoneaster microphyllus for the berries. Viburnum tinus, Photinia ‘Louise’ variegated, Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’ or Choisya ‘Goldfingers’ with the fluorescent yellow evergreen foliage.  Evergreen Euphorbia ‘Tasmanian Tiger’, ‘Ascot Rainbow’ and Euphorbia ‘Miners Merlot’ are all good choices.  Ferns are great for shade loving pots and there are hundreds of different dwarf conifers for brighter spots.  When Spring comes replant them into individual pots or into the garden.

Smaller containers of less than 45 cm are best planted with a single species or 5 or 6 much smaller bedding type plants or alpines.  Once again try to plant opposite leaf and flower colours, purple Pansies with either the silver foliage of Santolina or the creeping yellow leaf Lysomachia ‘Aurea’.  Don’t forget to under plant with bulbs of a similar height.  Here’s a list of plants that are suitable for this size of container:

  • Gaultheria Procumbens evergreen trailing red berries.
  • Ajuga ‘Burgundy Glow’ evergreen trailing purple leaves.
  • Lavender ‘Platinum Blonde’ cream and green scented foliage.
  • Chamacyparis ‘Rubicon’ an upright conifer which turns purple with colder weather.
  • Cuppressus ‘Wilma’ A favourite yellow conifer.
  • Cyclamen hederafolium hardy perennial cyclamen.
  • Calorephalus ‘Silver Sand’ bright silver foliage.
  • Sedum ‘Angelina’ trailing yellow foliage.
  • Juncus spiralis plant alone with the soil topped with gravel.
  • Carex ‘Frosted Curls’ soft upright soft textured leaves.
  • Mixed spring bulbs.
  • Mixed Pansies and Violas.
  • Solanum: orange like berry fruits.
  • Polyanthus or Primroses for more sheltered places.

So here are many ways you can keep your patio looking interesting and colourful during those long Autumn and Winter months.

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