With a slow start to summer this year has been a little underwhelming. Heavy rain, wind and cool temperatures have played havoc with our gardens. The grass is kept growing, rose bushes are feeling the brunt of the rain and we’ve barely had a chance to sit and enjoy our outside spaces.
If you’re anything like us, you’ll probably be hoping for an Indian summer – a glorious autumn where we can claw back some time in our gardens to sit back and enjoy the outdoors. But by then a lot of your summer plants will have flowered, and by the time autumn arrives it can leave you with less colours and fragrances which can put a dampener on your time spent outside.
Fortunately, there are plenty of late summer/autumn plants you can incorporate into your garden that will inject some magnificent colour and help you create a garden for all seasons.
Dahlia’s will give you colour in your garden right through until autumn. Their wide, full blooms in an array of colours make a statement if you’re looking for something to create impact.
They are on the more intensive side when it comes to looking after them, as they don’t like cold winter temperatures. So think carefully about where you want to place them. Planting them in a pot can work well, so that you can bring into a greenhouse or slightly warmer environment during the winter. Alternatively, some people cut them right down and lift out the tubers, insulating them with thick compost to protect them and then re-plant the following spring.
The National Dahlia Society gives you a comprehensive background and guide to all the different varieties.
Rudbeckia is renowned for its cheerful, bright yellow flowers. But there are plenty of varieties if you’re looking to get lots of colour into your autumn garden.
They can also give you a lot of height – some Rudbeckia plants can reach a height of three metres! Hardy and herbaceous, they will survive any bitter winters and when they naturally start to clump, you can divide the clumps and plant elsewhere to spread their autumn glory.
You can buy them as seeds and then plant out after spring is over or you can buy them all year round as established plants from most garden centres. So there’s plenty of time left to get them into your garden for autumn.
Japanese Anemone are an ideal autumn plant if you’re after colour and height and if you’re a hesitant gardener. Pale but interesting, these plants make the perfect border filler and don’t need much looking after. They also love shade, so if you’ve been struggling with a shady patch in your garden these plants are ideal.
Flowering from August until October, Japanese Anemone spread very easily so they can fill any gaps in borders and you’ll be able to split and re-plant in other areas of your garden. They’re also great for wildlife in winter, with their seed heads providing nutrition for birds.
Most garden centres will sell them as seed or as plants, making them easy to put in at any time of the year.
The radiant pink blooms of Nerine Bowdenii are perfect for injecting some colour into your garden in the autumn. Their lily-like flowers and foliage clump together over time, so if you want to add pops of colour across your garden you can simply split the clumps and plant elsewhere.
They’re hardy and resilient, and flower from September through to November which gives you colour right through until winter begins. You can buy them as bulbs to plant in the spring or as fully established plants so you don’t have to wait until next year to enjoy them in your garden.