Now that there’s a definite chill to the air and a softer, golden quality to the morning light, you’ll find that there’s plenty of bright pink and purple blooms and berries to enjoy before you settle into the mellow yellow shades of autumn.
Whilst ornamental grasses are great season stretchers and many, such as Miscanthus, produce pink-blushed decorative seed heads that last well into autumn.
Ornamental grasses are great season stretchers and many, such as Miscanthus sinensis, produce decorative seed heads that when when bejeweled with dew shimmer in sunlight, which last well into autumn
The sword-shaped leaves of Japanese Blood Grass, change colour as the season progresses, starting off green and turning shades of red during the mid summer months, deepening to a darker crimson by autumn.
Sedum Autumn Joy or Herbstfreude is another highlight of the late-season garden. Its leaves are blue-green, thick, and succulent whilst its flowers, which are irresistible to butterflies and bees, begin to open in August.
Sedum blooms start off rosy pink, deepening to salmon, then to rust, and finally they turn rich brown in an evolution that takes place over many weeks
Dwarf Sedum Rosenteller, Pennisetum Little Bunny and Carex Ice Dance are the perfect team for patio pots and window boxes, so you don’t even need a full-size garden to enjoy them. These plants will withstand drought and rainy weather and the sedum will attract hoards of butterflies.
Ornamental cabbages are one of the most dramatic plants for winter foliage with broad flat leaves with frilly-edges that develop their wonderful colours on the young leaves, veins and midribs as the temperatures fall below 10C.
Ornamental cabbages and kale are a good as any rose for cutting for the vase
There are decorative varieties of kale also available, which have curly or lacy leaves, also in white and pink shades. The leaves on the white varieties tend to quickly turn brown and tatty whereas the pink and red varieties hold up until Christmastime.
The pink varieties of cabbages are the perfect choice for a blue-glazed pot on a warm, sheltered patio and look brilliant when teamed up with pink pansies for winter. You could also squeeze them into containers filled with autumn-flowering chrysanthemums and asters.
As an accent, you might also like to add a splash of soulful violet-blue with Michaelmas daisies or Aster novi-belgii to your fading borders. This is a mildew-resistant variety.
Michaelmas daisies are great for bringing in the butterflies and bees to feast before they disappear for the winter
Aster x frikartii Monch seems to be on everyone’s top 10 list of lavender blue perennials as is Aster novae-angliae so check these varieties out too. And to soften the solid block of flowers that asters will create, it’s a good idea to weave in some Verbena bonariensis, which has a tall airy habit that will create a delightful mist effect and attract even more butterflies and bees to boot.
Winter flowering heathers are also useful for adding colour and are a good choice for roadside borders and difficult to mow banks as they will make gardening in these difficult spots almost maintenance-free.
It’s best to limit the choice of heather varieties to just two or three and plant in large drifts for impact
Both the lime-tolerant, white-flowered Erica carnea Springwood White and the deep pink Erica carnea Ghost Hills will flower from late winter through to late spring – pick them to peak when there’s little else to look at in your garden.
Hydrangeas are another showstopper at this time of year. The mopheads are easy to grow and provide lots of colour. They are tough and tolerate both shade and moist soils. Hydrangeas also make excellent cut flowers and look spectacular in pots on the late-summer patio.
For something a bit different check out for the brand new and exclusive Hydrangeasy from www lubera.co.uk. There are three magnificent varieties: Shabby Chic, which is early and compact with tall, pointed panicles, with a vintage look; Chameleon has medium high panicles with creamy yellow blooms that change to dark and green and also white-flowered Santis, which is perfect for growing in pots or as a hedge
Hydrangea flowers can also be dried for winter flower arrangements. For this purpose flowers must be cut late in the season then stood in a tall vase without water and out of direct sunlight. Gradually they will begin to dry out, becoming papery but retaining most of their colour.
Hardy fuchsias a must-have for the late summer containers. Tom Thumb is popular for pots and borders and Magellanica varieties make great hedges. Popular varieties are Fuchsia gracilis Versicolor, which has red-green foliage and Mrs Popple, which produces scarlet- skirted flowers above vibrant purple petticoats.
Find Fuchsia magellanica a spot in dappled shade where the root systems get plenty of moisture
There’s no shortage of trees and shrubs that produce bright red berries but if you want something that the birds are not too eager to scoff, pick statement plants that are unusually coloured.
Some of the most interesting plants for your autumn garden include the Beauty Berry, Callicarpa Profusion, which lives up to its common name and produces large clusters of violet bead-like berries on bare branches that last well into winter.
Calicarpa grows well in sun and dappled shade and fertile, well-drained soil. For the best effect, plant this shrubby, broad-spreading tree against a backdrop of yellow-leaved conifers or evergreen shrubs
Commonly known as Porcelainberry, Ampelopsis Elegans is a sturdy climber with vine-like leaves, curly pink tendrils and attractive plump, round berries in shades of lilac, purple and cream. Like clematis it likes its head in sun and the roots in shade and needs a warm wall for it to berry-up and look its best.
If you have a taste for the unusual, you’ll be bowled over by the curious sausage-like blue stained bean pods of Decaisnea fargesii. It’s tall, lanky, and arching habit can be used to create an informal backdrop to late summer borders.
The strawberry-like red fruit or Arbutus unedo is not the only reason to grow this lovely shrubby tree for as it ages it also has peeling mahogany coloured bark, which makes it almost huggable! The flowers, which appear from September to November.
The red ripe fruits of arbutus are very popular with insects and in particular butterflies
Many different edible fruit trees will also grow well in borders and even containers, from familiar apples to exotic pomegranate.When you pot up a fruit tree, you can savor springtime blossoms and feast on autumn fruit anywhere – on a deck, a patio, or even on a sliver of a balcony.