Top Tips for Extending Garden Colour into Autumn.

summer border
©Shutterstock – Take stock of borders now to begin planning for autumn colour.

August is a great time to take stock of your borders and containers. Right now, they should be in full swing; a riot of colour! But in a couple of months they will begin to fade and so it’s worth planning ahead now. Make sure that you have some plants waiting in the wings if you want to keep your display looking fresh and colourful.  

Here are some top tips for extending your display well into autumn.

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Join the Big Butterfly Count 2020

The Big Butterfly Count

Peacock Butterflies
©Van Meuwen – Peacock Butterflies are a common sight in UK gardens.

Have you spotted any butterflies lately? If your garden is a haven for them then why not take part in the Big Butterfly Count? This annual event runs from Friday 17 July and Sunday 9 August this year, so you still have plenty of time to get involved.

It’s a simple but effective way of testing the state of the UK’s butterfly populations. People up and down the UK will be stepping outside for 15 minutes with a cuppa and an identification sheet, downloaded from Butterfly Conservation’s website .  Choose a sunny spot to sit and record how many of each different species you can spot in your garden.
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Winter scented shrubs

yellow spidery flowers on a deciduous bow
Grow Witch Hazel to enjoy unusual flowers with an intoxicating scent
Image Source: Shutterstock

Winter scented plants will lift your spirits at any time of year. When the long, warm days of summer are a distant memory, the delicious scent of fragrant flowers is a welcome tonic.

Many winter flowering shrubs are perfume powerhouses, and their fragrances can be enjoyed from all around the garden. Their blooms have such heady scents to attract pollinators, which is no mean feat, given that there are relatively few pollinators around in winter. It works, though! On a sunny day, the sight of early emerging bees homing in on scented flowers is a wonderful sight.
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Taking notes in the garden

hat and books on garden table
Add a notebook to your garden toolkit for more effective planning
Image source: Shutterstock

Ask any gardener what’s on their list of must-have tools and chances are they’d say a trowel, fork and secateurs. Good gloves and stout boots also often get a mention but there’s something else I’d add to the gardening essentials – a notebook.

Keep a journal or notes on your garden. It’s one of the best ways to plan ahead and remember exactly what you’ve done.

Combine it with a camera and you can keep track of all those gardening jobs and flashes of inspiration. This helps you improve your plot every season and keep a detailed history of its development.
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Growing wintergreen perennials

Heuchera Obsidian
Illustrated by the deep purple Heuchera Obsidian, not all wintergreens are green
Image source: Chris Hill

Wintergreens, or evergreen perennials, are a valuable group of perennial plants that add texture, shape and colour to our borders during the dark days of winter, long after the flower-filled days of summer are over. These plants have so much more to offer to our gardens than their flowers because they don’t die back in winter like herbaceous perennials.

‘Wintergreens’ are not necessarily green, despite what their name suggests. Think glaucous blues, silvery greys, sumptuous deep purples, uplifting yellows, gentle tracings of pale variegation, and glowing red-edged foliage. The palette is surprisingly varied, so winter borders need never be dull.
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