One of the most common requests when designing a garden is the desire for ‘year round colour’ alongside the complaint that once the summer flowering perennials like delphiniums and roses have gone over the garden is predominantly green.
There certainly is no need to lose colour out of your garden once the summer shrubs and perennials have finished their show. It is just a matter of including some late summer and autumn flowering perennials in your design. Fantastic plants to consider are verbena bonariensis, which is much loved by butterflies, bees and garden designers! It does self-seed around so whilst you can start with this tall plant at the back of your borders you will soon find it has spread to other places…..I love these ‘happy accidents’
Other plants to make sure you have in your borders are the autumn flowering aconitums (aconite carmichaelii), for a splash of intense blue, the various asters (amellus, novi-belgii and novae-anglia and their various cultivars) that are available, which come in all colours from white and soft purples and pinks to strong and vibrant magenta and vivid purple. On the other side of the colour wheel in yellows and strong oranges, there are heleniums like Moerheim Beauty and Sahin’s Early Flowerer and a number of the rudbeckias like Goldsturm are fantastic for a hot coloured border. Then we have the marvellous echinaceas, the cheaper and easy to grow pink purpurea and its cultivars through to the more expensive and slightly fussier greens e.g. ‘Green Jewel’, creams and yellows. And I have managed to have penstemons flowering through until December before they have a ‘rest’.
And lastly there are few plants that offer such a great variety of shape and colour as Dahlias. They are not fully hardy and will need to be cut back and lifted once the frosts have arrived, or you may be lucky and be able to keep them in the ground by protecting them with a thick mulch, especially if we have a mild winter.
Whichever plants you choose there is definitely no need to have little to no colour in your garden in the Autumn, indeed it can be more colourful than in Summer, especially if you add in autumn colours on any trees and shrubs!