As a contemporary garden designer, I’m constantly looking for new ways to add beauty and elegance to the garden. I try to focus on planting schemes that I know will enrich the visual feast of my garden, and the plants I consistently turn to for guaranteed colour and impact at this time of year are annuals. Like many gardeners I have my own personal favourites. I always choose these same 4 or 5 plants every year. Why? That’s simple. It’s because I know not only are these plants beautiful; they also never let me down.…



Of course everyone will have their own very worthy contenders for this list and I have noticed that my favourites definitely change over time, but here are three plants which I come back to time and time again.


Eight Years Later

I always think that you should go back to visit a garden 10 years after building it to see the finished effect.


Make a Bold Statement with your Planting

From time to time I come across planting schemes that are quite out of the ordinary. And when I do I try to take a moment to appreciate it.

We have just started work on a garden on the Wirral and I am pleased to say the client has her own bold take on what planting should be.

The image above shows a “hedge” of about 150 crocosmia planted along side a row of 100 miscanthus. This row of planting was made to differentiate between the garden area and several acres of paddock beyond. And it does this with great flare and finesse. 

The miscanthus will grow up to two metres in time, but with the scale of the property and the distant views that won’t be a problem.

As time goes by, in my own planting schemes I am doing more large groupings of the same plants or ‘statement planting’. I have found that using many different species in a planting scheme can create a busy look to the garden. 

Because this garden is on a big scale there was a need for big thinking when it came to the planting. And this has been boldly achieved.

Many thanks to Cherry Batson for inspiring this post.

Autumn colour planting inspiration

As we progress towards autumn some gardeners may feel a little down in the dumps, but there is no need! Here is an inspiring list of plants that can brighten up your borders in October and November.

1) Nerine bowdenii – these unique lily-type flowers make an impact when planted in large drifts (5 or 10 at least). It is an herbaceous bulbous perennial, which only grows to about 45 cm. It is well worth the effort with its strap shaped leaves and beautiful pink flowers. They can be found as bulbs in your local garden centre.

2) Rudbeckia hirta ‘Autumn Shades’ – the rich, rustic shades of red, orange and yellow, make these daisy-like flowers particularly eye-catching. They flower from July to October, producing a mass of blooms – perfect for filling gaps in a sunny, well-drained border or containers.

3) Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’ – (commonly known as Autumn Joy) before they flower the succulent, lettuce-green leaves provide interesting foliage to the garden. Then in late summer the salmon-pink flower-heads add dramatic colour, which matures to pinkish-bronze then coppery-red in autumn. This versatile perennial is a valuable late source of nectar for butterflies and bees and the dried flowerheads provide structure and colour in the winter garden.

4) Aster novi-belgii ‘Patricia Ballard’ – (commonly known as Michaelmas daisy) these late summer and autumn flowering plants produce a dazzling display of bright mauve-pink daisies. The flowers are attractive to bees and the resulting seedheads can attract birds, so this is a gem for wildlife-friendly schemes. It will be equally at home in cottage garden borders, or more naturalistic planting schemes where it associates well with ornamental grasses.

You can also make sure to have beautiful autumn colour in your garden by selecting the right trees. Japanese maples and other Acers, Liquidambar styraciflua and Amelanchier lamarckii all brighten up the garden in the autumn.