By Millie Hurst
Summer might still be in full swing, but once the weather begins to cool and the days get shorter as we head into autumn, many of us can start to feel less enthusiastic about spending time in the garden. Compared to the bountiful months of May and June, autumn and then winter can bring harsher conditions with sharp frosts and storms - and, crucially, far fewer hours of daylight.
One avid gardener has shared her secrets to maintaining a vibrant display all year round, including one fiery garden design idea that comes into its own at a time when our gardens are at their most bare. So even though the sun is still shining now and winter seems a long way off at the moment, by planning ahead you'll be able to ensure there's just as much interest in your plot during the cooler months too.
Gardening enthusiast Sarah Pajwani, who recently appeared on the BBC's Gardeners' World, has transformed her garden in Berkshire, UK, over a period of eight years. 'I came to realize, looking out on the garden, winter is an incredibly important season to have something good to look out on.
'Because, in Britain, it lasts a flipping long time,' she says. Sarah recommends picking a key plant now that will look good in each of the seasons, including winter.
Cornus 'Midwinter Fire': garden expert's top pick for year-round color
In one of her garden borders, Sarah decided to plant 'a long curvy backdrop' of Cornus 'Midwinter Fire' - one of our favorite winter garden ideas. This is a hardy, fast-growing shrub that's happy in full sun to part shade, that will look like nothing out of the ordinary for most of the year.
Most of the time, it simply provides a green, leafy backdrop for more vibrant and colorful flowers. 'But, probably from October on, its leaves turn a buttery yellow,' says Sarah.
'Then, particularly in November, December, January, February, the leaves fall off and you're left with these stems that go from yellow at the bottom through orange, through bright red. I'd say it's the star of the entire garden,' she adds.
Sarah's planting suggestions for spring color
As we move into spring, Sarah says it's all about spring-flowering bulbs, such as crocuses, daffodils, alliums and tulips. These joyful favorites will always bring interest to any garden from around February to May.
Don't forget, there's plenty of tips on planting bulbs, with advice on when and how to do it, in our dedicated guide.
Planting choices for late summer color
Sarah suggests planting dierama for a brief burst of color in July, a moment when things get tricky because many of the summer-blooming plants will have faded. She also mentions heleniums, achillea and echinacea.
Penstemon, also known as Beardtongues are good flowers that will keep on going through late summer into winter, as long as you dead-head them regularly. Asters, Japanese anemones and tender salvias are also good options for bringing interest in late summer.
It just goes to show that stunning flowerbed ideas that look full and exciting every day of the year might be easier than you think, especially if you keep things ticking over with some of Sarah's uplifting suggestions. Which ones will you be planting?
Millie joined Gardeningetc in January 2021 as a news writer. When she isn't writing about gardening, she's tending to her small front garden. Her geraniums, dahlias and nasturtiums are looking lovely right now. She recently bought a bench for the garden and is loving alfresco lunch breaks and taking time to notice seedlings growing. She loves picking up some new plants at the local garden centre and is never without some fresh flowers at home.
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