When we think about the garden, we often focus on spring colour and summer brilliance. I've come to appreciate, though, how important it is to plan for autumn and winter colour. These can be quiet months in the garden. So here are some of my favourite plants that add colour and interest during autumn in particular.
Chief amongst them is Choisya ternata. This shrub is meant to favour full sun in a sheltered position. In Neats Home Garden it survives in fairly shaded spots, but is a little leggy as a result, so I've tried to revive it with some careful pruning. Choisya ternata flowers in late October, bearing small scented white blossoms, and can continue to do so for several more months.
This is a low evergreen plant, with long, narrow, coarse leaves. For much of the year it looks rather dull. However, in autumn, it provides a well-needed jet of colour, in the form of long purple flower spikes. Even the texture of the spikes - which appear to be composed of small beads - is interesting.
Liriope works well in a woodland garden setting. I plant it with hostas, ferns, and Lamium maculatum. It is also drought-tolerant, and tolerant of gardeners like me who move plants. I moved one cluster of Liriope twice last year, but it graciously flowered despite this brutal treatment.
These bulbs are lovely and are a great choice for instant impact. I bought some of these from J Parkers Wholesale in late September, planted them in early October, and they flowered a few weeks later. The flowers are pale lilac and creamy white. I've planted mine at the front of a sunny border, but they also look lovely naturalised under trees.
I used to turn up my nose at these shrubs. In London and other cities they're a common choice, mainly because they're tough, evergreen, and tolerate pollution.
But recently I've come to value them for their colourful autumn and winter berries. They are perfect for a wildlife copse and for edging a boundary wall. They also mix well with other attractive evergreen shrubs like Ilex aquifolium and Taxus baccata.
Local gardeners around us grow Pyracantha in espalier form in front of brick walls, and this image from Crocus shows how stunning they can look as a clipped hedge. So I've ditched my snobbery and embraced these enthusiastically - albeit with a thick pair of gloves!