Discover articles on garden design, seasonal planting tips for your garden and other news and views from Gillian Goodson Designs.

Autumn planting

Cherry red fruit of  Malus x robusta  ‘Red Sentinel’  (Gillian Goodson Designs)

Cherry red fruit of Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’ (Gillian Goodson Designs)

On the streets we gush at the seasonably trendy coats, classic silhouettes in timeless cashmere, sumptuous knits and soft, woollen scarves… in the garden, don an unfashionable jacket, those unbecoming wellies and just go outside! That earthy smell of rotting leaves will tickle our nostrils and fill our lungs this month as nature beds down. 

We are constantly on the go so that it’s easy to miss the beauty of the simple things around us. Take time to delight in the late autumn-gold sunshine, as it graces our skin, as it dances on morning dew – be outdoors on those perfect blue sky days and let your cares lift away on a breeze. 

The colder weather means it’s the ideal time to plant tulips for spring colour. Feast your eyes and be inspired by the colour palette available from the zesty orange of Tulipa ‘Ballerina’ – its fluted shape scented when warmed by the sun – to the moody, maroon-black of T. ‘Black Parrot’ – its striking, ruched petals the embodiment of glamour. Try also the dark red buds of T. ‘Antraciet’ – a double-flowered tulip reminiscent of peonies or the understated elegance of green and ivory T. ‘Spring Green’ and there’s the not so shy, candy-rose almost neon pink of T. ‘Pretty Princess’. 

If you are looking for a small tree, consider Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’ (3m-7m), an edible crab apple. Like other crab apples, it has spellbindingly beautiful white spring blossom, butter yellow autumn leaves but this one has a profusion of juicy, cherry-red fruit. 

We are familiar with the red buds of Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’, which are abundant in garden centres at this time of year. A great alternative is Skimmia japonica ‘Finchy’ – a compact evergreen shrub with glossy green leaves and creamy buds opening to creamy-white, fragrant flowers. It prefers partial shade, as full sun tends to bleach its leaves. 

It’s also time to prune trees while they are dormant to avoid bleeding sap; clean out bird boxes; check bonfires for hibernating animals before setting them ablaze and tidy borders. Rake that mountain of leaves – laugh, let nature take away your cares, may your spirit shine!