Colour All Year Round

“How can I get colour all year round in my garden?” This the most common question I’m asked when I’m giving garden advice  (only beaten by “How can I get rid of slugs?”).  All gardens will have a time of the year when they look good, but keeping that up for 12 months is a challenge.  Year round colour is possible, but requires some planning.  You need to get to know your garden and what plants will work well in it.  Below are six tips that are easy to follow and can give you colour across the year.

1. Plant Bulbs

Spring Bulbs

Spring Bulbs

If you don’t do anything else, adding bulbs to your containers or garden will always give you a longer season of colour.  Crocuses will start blooming in February and you can keep the colour going with Daffodils in March and April; Tulips from March to May and Alliums in June.  Plant these in the autumn so they can develop their roots and give you a good show in the following year.

2. Sow seeds for Annual Flowers

Annual flowers

Annual flowers

If you don’t have a greenhouse or much space to start off seeds on a windowsill choose easy-care annuals to give you colour from mid summer through to October such as French Marigolds, Cosmos, Nasturtium, Borage.  Sow or plant these in between existing plants to add colour at the end of the summer, when many flowering plants are finishing.  If you want to grow a wider variety of annual plants see my blog for more information.

3. Grow evergreen Plants and Shrubs

Some evergreen shrubs such as Rhododendrons and Camelias can take over a small garden and quickly outgrow pots.  But remember that many herbs are evergreen and will give you foliage colour all year round, take up less space and give flavour to your cooking!  They will grow happily in pots or the ground and can be trimmed to size.  My favourites are Bay, Sage, Rosemary and Curry Plant (Helichrysum italicum) which has a beautiful, delicate silver leaf.  Herbs will need plenty of sun, so if you’re looking for evergreen plants for shade try Box, Euonymus, Hellebore, Heuchera or Ivy instead.  Most ferns are happy in shade and look particularly attractive in containers, where they will thrive for many years.

4. Stems for Winter interest

Winter stems for colour in your garden

Winter stems for colour in your garden

When plants become dormant in the winter they may loose their leaves but may have interesting or colourful stems that will create interest.  Shrubs such as Dogwood, Physocarpus and Willow have brightly coloured stems that will look their best if you ‘coppice’ them each year.  This means cutting them back to 10cm from the ground each spring.  Some trees also have colourful bark and branches in the winter such as Tibetan Cherry, Acer ‘Sangu Kako’, Acer griseum  and Himalyan Silver Birch.

5. Late Summer Flowers

Late Summer Colour

Late Summer Colour

By the end of August many popular plants and shrubs have finished flowering so make sure you have some of these to extend your garden colour through to October:

  • Japanese Anemone
  • Aster
  • Globe Thistle
  • Kaffir Lily
  • Fennel
  • Hydrangea
  • Dahlia

6. Garden Features

It’s not just plants that can give you colour.  Placing features or painting fences or sheds can also create year round colour in your garden.  Make sure you stick to a limited number of colours and finishes or your garden could look mis-matched and jarring on the eye.  For a small garden chose no more than 3 or 4 of these and check the walls, paving, containers and paint finishes all compliment each other.  Ronseal produce a great range of garden paints.

More Advice

Come along to my next workshop on garden design in you are in the Manchester or Lancashire area.

Get in touch to book a 1-2-1 garden advice session with me.  I’ll come to your garden and discuss your advice needs with you.