Autumn is a great time of year for planning the garden, for planting, transplanting and reshuffling after the heat of summer has subsided. Planning also means ensuring a succession of interesting things happening in the garden for the months to come, and colour is often considered the most noticeable and desirable element

Flower colour is temporary, lasting a season at the most, so one needs to find alternative ways to introduce it. First of all, consider all plant parts when making up your colour palette – fruit, berries, bark and buds all play a part and draw attention to a particular plant at different times of the year. In short, look for pops of colour rather than expecting plants to bloom all year round. 

Striking effects can also be achieved using only interesting colours of foliage: all shades of green from chartreuse to emerald, silver, grey, blue, maroon, red, yellow and even black – not all together of course! So even a bloomless garden can still have an amazing colour scheme. 

How to combine colours is really a matter of personal taste, but in general, the most pleasing effects are the ones that use a limited palette. A riot of colours can result in a slightly chaotic composition which, particularly in a small garden, can be tiring.  In fact, special effects can be obtained by using certain types of colours in certain types of spaces. For example cool colours, by appearing to recede, can make a space appear larger than it actually is as well as having a calming effect. Conversely, warm colours are lively and dynamic and appear closer than they really are making a space feel smaller. 

Maximum impact is obtained by planting drifts of the same plant rather than a variety of single specimens. On a much larger scale, imagine the marvel of a field of lavender, poppies or sunflowers. The same effect can be achieved at a smaller scale in the garden, especially when it comes to planting bulbs and annuals. 

Nature is often our best teacher – a lot can be learnt by noticing plant and colour combinations in the wild and then recreating them with commercially available plants. 

Lastly, introducing bursts of colour has never been easier. A coat of paint can transform dull looking garden furniture, sheds, structures and walls and colourful pots and soft furnishings are a wonderful complement to the planting.