Five plants to create an autumn garden

Continuing our design series with award-winning landscape company, Bowles & Wyer, this month we look at their top tips for creating a garden perfect for Autumn.

The Covid019 pandemic has made us realise just how valuable our gardens and outdoor spaces are and as we head to Autumn, we look at how best to elongate your garden’s blooms into the cooler months. Below, James Smith, design director at Bowles & Wyer, shares his autumnal planting tips. James believes that this season can be one of the most beautiful for the garden – with possibilities to create truly stunning visual effects.

Making your garden glow

Think about mixing textures, flowers and foliage. Deciduous shrubs and trees will eventually lose their leaves in Autumn but many go out with a bang! The fiery reds and oranges in species such as Euonymus alatus and Rhus typhina can create a stunning focal point to light up a dull corner of your garden. The leaves can look equally as impressive when they cover the lawn or float on a pond,” James explains.

(above: Euonymus alatus)

He also points out that Autumn is a great time for grasses too, as they have matured over the summer and their seed heads stand proud as they sway in the breeze.

Planting ideas

For flowering interest, plants like Anenomes, Liriopes and Tricyrtis formosana ‘Dark Beauty’ are great choices, although many late summer flowering plants can often go into the Autumn. Liriopes have the added benefit of evergreen foliage.”

Berries are always an important part of autumn and James points out that the old favourites, such as all the Cotoneaster varieties are suitable: “Cotoneaster horizontalis is less used than it should be but offers both berries and autumn colour. Some other shrubs such as Cornus kousa or Arbutus unedo offer fantastic, exotic-looking fruits in late summer and early Autumn.”

What should you consider when choosing autumnal planting?

James points out that we should think about backdrops here that can really accentuate the colour of Autumn leaves and flowers: “It’s important to think about the view from key windows – so you can see and experience the seasonal change, even on a rainy day. Mixing different textures and foliage is always good and can be just as interesting as seeing flowers, and can look like sculptures in their own right,” he says.

James’ top tip is that plants in shady corners can help to brighten the spades when they burst into colour, and suggests that you could position plants next to walls and entrances to make them a real feature.

(above: Rhus typhina -Staghorn Sumac)

Five Autumn plants

James suggests: Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’; Euonymus alatus; Nassella tenuissima (perfect for introducing movement into planting); Panicum virgatum ‘Rehbraun’;
Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ (upright architectural grass with lovely oat-coloured seed heads – great against a dark fence); Lirope Muscari, otherwise known as Big Blue Lilyturf (good choice for ground cover planting); Rhus typhina (known as Staghorn Sumac).

Bowles & Wyer are RHS Chelsea Show Garden Gold Medal winners and BALI (British Association of Landscape Industries) Grand Award Winners.For more information please visit:

Photo credits: All images ©Bowles & Wyer