Five Ideas for Creating a Colorful Fall Garden

November 6, 2012 by

Radiant fall colors. Photo: Robin Plaskoff Horton, Urban Gardens.

With autumn in full swing and trees and plants ablaze with a burnished rainbow of gold, bronze, copper and ruby, nature has handed us a glorious palette of molten metal shades and jewel tones without us having to lift so much as a spade.

Injecting color into your garden the rest of the year might take a little more effort, but with just a handful of tips and a little forward planning, a kaleidoscope of characterful color can be yours in spring, summer, and even the frosty depths of winter.

Five Ways to Bring Color Into Your Fall Garden

Fall leaves with some colorful blooms popping through. Photo: Robin Plaskoff Horton, Urban Gardens.

1. Annuals are a great way to get some quick color into your garden – plants grown in spring and summer and will survive for just one season. Sunny marigolds, daisy-like Calendula and sweet peas are just a few bright annuals you could try to add a pop of color.

Calendula. Photo: courtesy of Kerry Michaels.

2. Underplanting. Think about underplanting to fill gaps between plants or widely-spaced stems and branches and turn your flowerbeds into a pretty mosaic of different colors and textures. Take a bold pink tulip underplanted with a frothy spread of blue forget-me-nots, for example – then think of your favourite combinations and plan your own color contrasts. Not all plants are suitable for underplanting, however, so make sure you get some advice from your local garden center – they need to be low-growing to give good horizontal coverage and must not be too spiky or aggressive to compete with the plant they’re meant to be complementing. Velvety pansies are a great place to start.

Underplanting in a container. Photo: Courtesy, Kerry Michaels.

3. Perennials are a lower-maintenance way to keep your garden colorful in the longer-term – these are those plants which live for more than two years, blooming in spring and summer, dying in spring and summer but then returning the following year. A classically beautiful example is the English rose, which comes in a host of mouthwatering shades, from soft cream and ice cream pink to deep, dark red. A less traditional but no less beautiful option is Rudbeckia, which has the heart-cheering yellow and black colouring of a sunflower with the slender and graceful finger-like petals of a large daisy. But there are a huge number of options to choose from – ask at your local garden center or supplier, as they’ll know the local climate well, and the plants that will flourish best in it.

Rudbeckia, aka Black Eyed Susan, courtesy of Proven Winners.

4. Colored Leaves. It’s not all about petal power – you don’t need to wait till autumn for foliage to take on those flaming hues of crimson, yellow and plum. In spring or autumn, plant shrubs with colored leaves – maple, copperleaf, and hydrangea all have leaves that cover a spectrum of lovely colors.

Hydrangeas from my own garden. Photo: Robin Plaskoff Horton. Urban Gardens.

5. Shrubs. The unforgiving temperatures of winter of course mean that your garden is more subdued during those colder months, but bare branches needn’t mean bare of color. Shrubs such as dogwood have rich oxblood-red coloured stems, or try something like ornamental kale in purple shades – frilly wheels of deep magenta will add a welcome burst of color in a frosty garden. Traditionally hardy plants – the shiny red bead of a holly berry against a blanket of winter frost can be a very lovely thing indeed.

Ornamental Kale. Photo, courtesy Kerry Michaels.

Decorative Shortcuts
If your green thumb is a little weary, then there are of course less conventional, shortcut ways to bring some zing into your garden. Bright patio furniture, a painted garden bench with a couple of printed cushions and matching plant pots adds a welcome dash of the brightness. Outdoor mobiles, a wall mural, or mosaic garden features will lend a similar impact if you’re feeling even more adventurous, and help make your garden more like an extension of your home.

This post was sponsored by Gardens Galore Landscaping, a specialist garden design and build service in Scotland. 


  1. Kerry Anita said:

    What vibrant colors! These pictures are beautiful!

    — November 6, 2012 @ 13:34

  2. Wendy said:

    So there is more to Fall than color change of leaves. Your take on Fall flowers makes the season that much more vibrant.

    — November 7, 2012 @ 11:19

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