The air has turned a little fresher and the nights are starting to draw in earlier but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy colourful displays in the garden long into the autumn.
Planting your containers with gorgeous blooms is a satisfying way to add interest at this time of year.
Here are our top tips and suggestions for keeping your garden glowing in the golden hours of autumn.
Autumnal Top 5
Our favourite plants for this time of year
As a garden designer and plantsman nothing gives me more pleasure than sourcing beautiful plants for my clients. With the coming change of the season I want to share what you can add to your garden containers now to keep colour, structure and interest alive in the garden.
Compact Dahlias that grow to around 60cm are best for pots. Look for Dahlia 'Gallery Leonardo' for shades of blush pink and Dahlia 'Moonfire' to add bursts of sunshine. At this time of year you'll be looking to buy plants ready to pot and once the season is over you can store the tubers ready to plant out next year.
Aster savatieri or 'naked aster' as it is commonly known is a great companion for Dahlias at this time of year, the white or pale blue flowers offer a neutral background making your Dahlias the centre of attention. Not the easiest of plants to source but well worth it if you can get your hands on them.
Alliums, although not available now in bloom, are worth considering for next year. Start thinking about where you'd like to see these striking plants now and come this time next year you'll be rewarded with their stunning, skeletal structures which again make a great supporting act for your dancing Dahlias.
These trumpet-like blooms burst into life at this time of year and make wonderful swaying displays in the garden. Buy now and keep the plants in their pots in your container and when ready they can be transferred into the garden to keep dormant ready for next year.
They come in shades of pink and white and are perfect for adding a sense of joy to the garden. They really do look like a celebration of the end of summer and the welcoming committee for autumn.
3. Festuca glauca
The muted blue tones of the Festuca glauca create calm and can be used to fill gaps in your containers. As a dwarf grass it will survive the driest of conditions once established and will spring blue flowers come the summer. This is a lovely way to add soft, silvery themes which can either help other colours pop or will look stunning on its own.
Grasses shouldn't be overlooked when it comes to adding colour and interest to the autumnal garden. Fountain grass or Pennisetum x advena 'Rubrum' offers scarlet and silver, feather-light stems at this time of year, they hang as if having reached for the sky and grown tired, drooping dozily and looking magical. When paired with trailing Calibrachoas the effect can be like a floral volcano.
4. Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii 'Goldsturm'
A bright and bee-friendly way to add colour to the garden in Autumn. It's an easy care plant and although traditionally thought of as best planted in drifts with ornamental grasses, using it for planters is an effective way to add that late splash of colour. The plants can always be moved and left to spread elsewhere in the garden later in the year.
You can soften the impact of the bright yellow petals by bringing in Sedums. In particular Hylotelephium telephium 'Xenox Yellow' with its maroon leaves and smudgy butter-like flowers they make a great pair, amplifying and muting each other equally, one of our favourite matches.
5. Winter Salad
Not all colour in Autumn has to be in the form of petals, winter salads are an effective and edible way to add dashes of colour in the garden. Quick to grow and tasty too, winter salad is always on the list for a container at this time of year.
Lettuce 'Cerbiatta', Lettuce 'Cos Freckles', Lettuce 'Rouge d'Hiver', Lettuce 'Outredgeous' will give you colour, texture and varied leaf shapes. Add a little warmth with some Mustard Wasabi and if nothing else your tastebuds will be toasty this winter.
Just like plants, planters and containers have a lifespan and if yours are looking tired and in need of replacing, now is the time for the revamp.
If your garden is lacking form and division, and by that I mean, how does your eye travel around your garden? If there is nothing drawing your gaze, planters are a great way of adding structure and form to the flow of a garden. You will see more if you offer a path for your eye to follow.
If you're thinking of adding or replacing garden planters we have a large selection to help the decision making that little bit easier.