Gardening: Plants to perk up your garden for autumn

Helianthus Lemon Queen.
Helianthus Lemon Queen.

Is your garden losing the will to live? Don’t despair, as there are lots of easy plants that will perk up your pots and borders.

Of all the seasons, autumn is the one most forgotten about - until we’re there, then we wish we had more plants that perform between mid-September and November.

Here’s my star performers of the season. Timing is very arbitrary and based on weather - wind, excess wet or dryness (or frost) will all hasten the end of autumn. Enjoy it while you can.

They’re mostly hardy perennials apart from the biennial teasel and the half-hardy dahlias, whose tubers will need to be lifted and stored in a frost-free place when frosts strike.

Acanthus mollis (bear’s breeches): flowers/seed spikes, huge glossy leaves, mid Sept-Nov, 1-1.5m.

Arum marmoratum Italicum (Italian arum): new variegated leaves/berries mid Sept onwards, 35cm.

Cynara cardunculus (cardoon): flowers/dried seedheads/huge leaves until winter, 2.5m.

Cynara scolymus (globe artichoke): flower heads/leaves mid-Sept-Nov, 2m.

Dahlia: leaves and flowers mid Sept-first frost, 40cm-1.5m.

Dipsacus follonum (native teasel): seedheads mid Sept-Nov, 1.5-2.5m.

Echinacea (coneflower): flowers mid-Sept-Oct, 1-1.5m.

Euphorbia (hardy herbaceous/shrubby spurge varieties): leaf colour/flowers, depending on variety, mid-Sept-Nov, 15cm-1.5m.

Foeniculum vulgare purpureum (Bronze fennel): flowers/seed heads/foliage mid Sept-Nov, 1.8m.

Helianthus Lemon Queen (perennial sunflower): flowers mid Sept-late Oct; foliage colour, 2m.

Humulus lupulus Aureus (climbing golden hop): leaf colour/hops mid Sept-end Oct, 4-8m.

Kniphofia (red hot poker, torch lily): K. uvaria Nobilis flowers mid Sept-Oct; foliage evergreen, 1.5m+.

Leucanthemum x superbum Aglaia (Shasta daisy): flowers until Nov, 0.5-1m.

Rodgersia: leaf colour mid Sept-Oct, 1m+.

Rudbeckia (coneflowers, black-eyed Susan): flowers mid-Sept-Oct, 50cm-1m.

Sedum (stonecrop): flowers Sept-Oct; leaf colour Oct-Nov, 5cm-75cm.

Stipa gigantea (giant oat grass): seedheads until winter, 2.5m.