Give your garden an autumn refresh

Spring flowering bulbs such as snowdrops should be planted nowSpring flowering bulbs such as snowdrops should be planted now
Spring flowering bulbs such as snowdrops should be planted now
Now’s the time to give your containers and borders a little TLC, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

With autumn just around the corner, there couldn’t be a better time to capitalise on the change of seasons.

Perhaps you’ve taken your foot off the gardening pedal – spending more hours lounging among your flower beds than liberating them from weeds, and their floral charm might be starting to fade.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, a few clever moves now will brighten things up and reward your garden tenfold come springtime. Here’s what Marcus Eyles, horticultural director at Dobbies (, recommends you do to refresh your containers and borders this autumn…


Whether you have a large garden, compact patio or city balcony, Eyles says it’s easy to give your outdoor space an instant seasonal refresh with colourful containers.

“Enhance your garden for the new season by refreshing pots and hanging baskets with plants like pansies, violas and wallflowers,” he says. “These beautiful flowers will last through winter and brighten up your garden with colour through the colder months – then burst into full bloom in the spring.”

He says the autumn flowering saffron crocus is a fantastic choice for those looking to add colour and interest to their containers, and this striking flower should be planted with a good quality peat-free compost.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Spring flowering bulbs such as snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and tulips should also be planted now for a colourful display that will start to bloom in early spring next year,” suggests Eyles.

To protect your container plants from the elements as we get into colder and windier months, he says to make sure you position pots near your doorway – and this will also allow you to appreciate the plants up close.

Beds and borders

One of the most important seasons in the gardening world, early autumn is the ideal time to refresh your beds and borders – perhaps by introducing some warm colours.

“Bring signature autumnal colours, such as ochre and orange, to your outdoor space by planting chrysanthemums, crocosmia and rudbeckia,” encourages Eyles.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Seasonal plants like echinacea, anemone and hebe will bring in tones of purple, pink and white to really catch the eye – and create a showstopping display that will last you throughout the autumn.”

Meanwhile, he says ornamental grasses and hydrangea flowers should be left on plants to protect them over the winter – plus, they look great laced with frost on a winter’s morning.

“Leaving your borders with foliage and flower stems will also encourage wildlife to thrive and give them a space to shelter during the colder months,” he says.

When working on your beds and borders in autumn, he suggests mulching well with peat-free compost or Bloomin Amazing – an organic peat-free mulch – to ensure good soil health, and help keep weeds at bay.

Ornamental trees and shrubs

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Autumn is also a great time to take stock of your garden and look at its overall look and feel. If you’re not sure where to start or are in need of some inspiration, Eyles says ornamental trees are the perfect way to add height and interest.

“Evergreen shrubs like viburnum tinus and skimmia will add charming flowers and a wonderful fragrance and structure to your garden,” suggests Eyles. “They work well planted both in borders and containers.”

He continues: “These trees will complement shrubs such as acers, cotinus and parthenocissus climbers, which bring fiery shades of autumn foliage at this time of year.”

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.