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

Finding joy in the new season

A cocktail of colours –  Dhalia  ‘American Dawn’  (Gillian Goodson Designs)

A cocktail of colours – Dhalia ‘American Dawn’ (Gillian Goodson Designs)

Throw caution to the wind and don’t let the shorter days and longer nights hem you in. With autumn drawing to a close and winter creeping in, treat the new month as you would a new love and your spirits will be insuppressible!

How does one choose a favourite season when to me, there is beauty in each? It would be rather dull if we were all the same and the same goes with choosing plants for the garden. I would proudly fail in having to choose just one. For example, dahlias certainly divide the crowd. However, stumble across the alluring Dahlia ‘American Dawn’ and it’s easy to see why for some, it would be like walking into a sweet shop: eyes bulging with excitement and discovery! It’s a tropical mix of coral pink, apricot and purple; scrumptious over dark green foliage. A versatile choice for cut flower, border or planter; flowering from July through to November.

No need to cast your eyes further afield than Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ (winter-flowering cherry) – a small tree (8m) with enchanting white flowers and a touch of pink – great for small gardens. The flowers grace branches, recently bereft of leaves, on and off on mild days from late autumn through to early spring (longer than the name might suggest). Another long-flowering wonder is Liriope muscari (lily-turf) – this time a clump-forming evergreen perennial with strap-like leathery leaves and purple flowers on upright spikes. A reliable choice for dry shade, neutral to acid soil – there’s also a white available L. muscari ‘Munroe White’.

Some find bedding plants hard to resist. Nurseries and garden centres will be stocked to the rafters with these over autumn/winter. If these light your fire then consider planting them with smaller evergreens to complement and tone down the colour combinations on offer eg violas and pansies grouped in a planter with rosemary.

Things to do in the garden this month: check for hedgehogs and other precious creatures hiding in that impressive mound soon to be bonfire fodder; plant bare-root trees, shrubs and the like; clean nesting boxes and put food out for birds; weed before putting down a winter mulch. Harvest leeks, Brussel sprouts, parsnips, carrots and plant garlic. It’s time to get the garden ready for winter.

May you find yourself a new secret love, whether human, nature or activity: treasure; nurture and may it grow!