Autumn colour in the garden

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October is one of the most colourful times of the year. Many flowers are still blooming and the leaves on trees and shrubs are beginning to change to fiery colours like red, yellow and orange.

It’s a good time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials as the soil still has some warmth and will help to get them established. Try and get evergreens planted by the end of the month. Dormant roses are now available at local nurseries and garden centres, and are very good value for money. In fact, with just one £50 National Garden Gift Voucher you can create a rose garden for the coming year that will provide beautiful flowers and fragrance from early summer through to autumn.

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Before planting, mix in some good quality compost and make sure the plants are watered well once planted. It’s also an excellent time to plant conifers. National Conifer Week, which takes place in October, highlights the many benefits of growing conifers in your garden. Conifers are cone-bearing seed plants and include cedars, cypresses, firs, junipers, larches, pines, spruces, and yews. Whilst being practical and useful, conifers are also visually stunning and can transform a garden into something quite magnificent. They are a wonderful way of adding colour and shape to your outdoor space especially as many conifers change colour throughout the year.

With several hundred varieties of conifers available in the UK, there is one to suit every type of garden, and they are easy to look after. They need good drainage and water to get them established, but once growing will need little attention as they are pretty disease resistant and maintenance free. In addition to conifers, another way to bring colour to the garden at this time of year is with autumn bedding plants. One of the most exciitng group of plants to brighten up any part of the garden is Heuchera.

Native to North America where their roots, know as alumroot, have been used in traditional medicines for years, Heuchera were originally grown for their flowers – dainty spikes of red, pink and white bells. They carry their plume like flowers high above their crowns of leaves, but gardeners are now mainly interested in their foliage which comes in a variety of colours. Heucheras grow in full or partial sun, in well composted soil and are fairly pest resistant. They can be established as ground cover in many garden situations like under trees where grass could struggle.

October is often a time spent clearing up after the summer and preparing for the winter and spring ahead so keep an eye out at your local garden centre for advice on garden tasks as part of the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) ‘Plan it, Plant it this autumn’ campaign, such as …

l Plant autumn colour

l Create a bird feeding area

l Move tender plants inside or into a greenhouse to protect against frost, or fleece

l Harvest autumn vegetables

l Collect falling leaves

l Plant spring flowering bulbs

l Prune tall growing roses

l Dead head all faded flower heads and remove any parts of plants that have died back.