Bright ideas for autumn

Bella gardening expert Kim Wilde lets you into her secrets for a seasonal blaze of colour…


Nature’s fiery autumn colours are a delight as she puts on a spectacular finale before the winter. Trees in my garden including Amelanchier (snowy mespilus), Rhus (stag’s-horn) and Sorbus (rowan) are already starting to glow brightly in brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow.
Make a note of plants you see with a dazzling display of colour so you can put them in your garden. Some of my favourites are:
Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’. A hardy, free-flowering and vigorous herbaceous perennial which is extremely good value, producing violet-coloured daisy flowers over several months – and it’s mildew free.
Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ (Japanese anemone). This tall herbaceous perennial bears white, cup-shaped flowers and clumps of pretty foliage. It is perfectly suited to the shadier parts of the garden, and can flower for more than two months each year.
Schizostylis coccinea (Kaffir lily). These long-flowering, moderately hardy perennials bearing red, star-shaped blooms have sword-like leaves that remain virtually all year round. Mulch the root area in winter to protect them from frost. They do well alongside dwarf Michaelmas daisies and autumn-flowering sedums.
Rudbeckia fulgida var deamii (coneflower). This hardy herbaceous perennial has deep yellow, daisy-like petals surrounding a black centre. It looks lovely planted with ornamental grasses such as miscanthus and stipa.
Stipa gigantea (giant golden oat or giant feather grass). This graceful grass reaches a height of 2.2m and has flower heads that resemble oats on tall stems. It makes a superb focal point.

September jobs

Now is the time I start my preliminary tidy up of the garden in readiness for winter, and although there are still warm evening ahead, shake yourself out of the summer lull because there are plenty of things to do…
Summer containers that have come to an end of their life can be cleaned out and replanted for winter.
Narcissi, snowdrops, cyclamen and winterflowering pansies are ideal with Skimmia japonica. For good crops of berries the female skimmias need a male skimmia plant close by.
Sarcococca (Christmas box), which is exquisitely scented, and Aucuba japonica variegata (spotted laurel) are also good winter container plants.
Take semi-hard cuttings of perennials and shrubs, particularly those that are marginally hardy such as santolina, hebe, fuchsia and penstemons.
Cut a non-flowering shoot 10cm long just below where the leaf joins the stem. Remove the lower leaves so that the two top pairs remain, dip it into a rooting compound and place it at the edge of a pot of cutting compost. Keep in a frost-free place until it is established, ready for individually potting next spring.