Creating autumnal garden hues

Geoff Stonebanks gives an insight into the autumnal hues at his award winning garden Driftwood Garden

Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer'

Gardens and plants can create some very special visual effects at this time of the year with the vast assortment of autumnal colours that start to emerge in the borders. In among the dazzling array of greens, the brighter colours stand out. One of my favourites in the beach garden is the Coronilla glauca, with its bright yellow flowers, set against the reds and browns of the hydrangea’s fading flower heads behind. These amazing yellow flowers can last all winter and can even be used as cut flowers in the house.

Indian summer

I have quite a few hydrangeas in the garden now and the latest one, ‘vanilla fraise’, is especially impressive at this time of the year. The flowers emerge creamy-white and turn shades of pink as they age, before finally taking on rich red and russet tones for the autumn. They are perfect for adding late summer colour to the shrub border, or for creating an informal, flowering hedge.

Hydrangea 'vanilla fraise'
The papery pink flower heads of hydrangea keep their colour adding interest to the autumn garden
Image: Geoff Stonebanks

As the name might suggest, Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’ lives up to expectation providing reliable, striking colour through the autumn. I’ve got a large clump of it in the back garden and have also introduced some in a large container behind the house. Their unique bronzed foliage and long lasting flowers can be relied upon to bloom from June right through to November. These hardy Peruvian lilies are compact with an upright habit, ensuring that the stems are still a good length for cutting. They are a perfect perennial for borders and patio containers too.

Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer'
Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’ is a stalwart at Driftwood by sea
Image: Geoff Stonebanks

Autumn stalwart

A wonderful plant for the autumn is the ever-popular chrysanthemum. Without doubt, spray chrysanthemums are the easiest to grow. They give great value for money and are the best types for providing masses of garden colour throughout summer and into autumn. And they’re excellent for cutting for indoor decoration too. I’ve got quite a few in my garden, all in containers. They are really useful plants to have as I use them to fill in gaps in flower arrangements as the summer wears on. Their explosion of colour in a variety of autumnal hues brightens any corner of the garden too.

Berried treasure

Autumn is the best time to see some wonderful colour on the berries of many shrubs too. Looking good in my garden at the moment are those on the pyracantha, or firethorn.

Pyracantha berries
Autumn berries provide vital food for the birds and vibrant colour in the borders
Image: Geoff Stonebanks

There is a stunning orange one in the beach garden at the front of the house, just ripe for the birds to feed on. Many grow this shrub just for these showy berries, providing colour in the garden when there is little else. It can be grown as a free-standing shrub, against a wall or as a hedge. A great bonus with them is that they are very low maintenance too. Another wonderful shrub with autumnal berries is the Cotoneaster horizontalis.

Cotoneaster 'horizontalis'
Red berries add colour and texture to the garden
Image: Geoff Stonebanks

I have two lovely specimens in the garden and they give beautiful displays of red berries. It is very popular for the characteristic herringbone pattern of its stems, which makes it useful trained across the ground or on a wall. I also have a few sedums dotted throughout the garden which develop gorgeous russet tones as well as many of the grasses in both the beach garden front and back, notably Carex “Comans Bronze”. Another great provider for autumnal colours is the acer tree. There are so many to choose from that will brighten any autumnal day, that is providing the harsh salt laden winds have not damaged the leaves, a common problem where I live on the south coast!


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