PERFECT PLANTS FOR AUTUMN
Autumn can be a very neglected time of year in the garden, but it doesn’t have to be, says John. ‘There’s still so much beauty and interest to celebrate. It’s not as frantic as spring, so there’s more time to enjoy the plants, and it’s constantly changing as green foliage gives way to autumn tints, and seedheads gradually replace flowers.’
Create a permanent structure of evergreen plants and trees that have colourful autumn foliage; acers, birches, sorbus.
Prune deciduous shrubs and trees to create balanced, elegant silhouettes that don’t eclipse later-flowering plants.
Pre-plant plastic pots with annual rudbeckias, zinnias and dwarf chrysanthemums to fill gaps in beds and borders that develop as herbaceous planting goes over.
Choose trees with richly textured or coloured bark, such as the paper-bark maple, which has flaky, chestnut-coloured bark, or coppery, peeling Prunus serrula.
For long-lasting golden fruit that looks lovely and feeds the birds, grow crab apples, such as Malus ‘Comtesse de Paris’, or compact rowan trees such as Sorbus hupehensis, with white berries, ageing to pink.
Don’t cut back ornamental grasses until late spring, when the tiny green shoots are emerging. Red tussock grass Chionochloa rubra needs little attention apart from thinning out old stems in spring.
While deadheading, leave seedheads for winter interest on alliums, fennel and poppies.
Plant teasels – they have tiny purple flowers in summer, but leave strong, handsome seedheads to add structure throughout winter and provide a refuge for insects and seeds for goldfinches.