How to make your garden colourful all year round

There is definitely a change in the air. Not only do the evenings feel cooler, but the colours around us are changing. Late summer colour in our gardens take on a definite autumnal hue, with reds, oranges, russets and browns coming to the fore.

Dahlias, echinacea, eelenium and chrysanthemums all flower in late summer and can keep flowering well into October or November, depending on how the weather treats them. I love seeing them planted in groups: they all have very structural flowerheads and, if you have a moment, get up close and have a really good look at their geometry.

With such formal structure, it really complements them to have looser planting around them. Grasses work really well and are now having their moment: having taken all year to grow, they are now art their full height and are sending out their seedheads.

I especially like planting stipa tenuissima, sometimes called ponytails, in a mixed flower bed. It has wispy pale green leaves and silvery flower heads that move wonderfully in the wind and is semi-evergreen, so may keep its leaves throughout winter if it is in a sheltered spot.

Pick a colour

I am often asked what colours complement each other. In theory,colours that are opposite or next to each other on the colour wheel go together, but I say plant what you like! Take inspiration from Mother Nature or other gardens, but plant what you enjoy!

Generally paler, more subtle colours evoke a feeling of calm or peace, and warmer colours have more energy about them but they will look different on different days, and at different times of day, so throw out the theory book and simply plant colours that make you smile!

Time it well

If you want to enjoy your garden all year round instead think about the timing of the colour in your garden. A garden full of spring flowering shrubs will be beautiful from March to May, but then will be green for the rest of the year. Planting a mix of plants that flower at different times will ensure you have something in colour all the time.

My top tip is to take photos of your garden once a month. This will pinpoint when you might have colour gaps, and help you narrow down the plant choice for your next shopping trip! And September is the perfect time for planting!

Renée is a local gardener and designer, also known as The Girl who Gardens. For more hints and tips join her community group Gorgeous Gardeners on Facebook.

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