How you design and plant your garden, just like your home, is a question of personal taste and needs to suit you. Many people make the mistake of going to the garden centre, at one time of the year often late spring/early summer and buying everything they like that’s in flower at that time. The end result, being a garden has no interest other than at the time of year they went plant shopping. However, with some research, the right mix of plants, you can extend the season of interest in your garden, potentially with each month presenting a few new elements for you to enjoy. 

Planning 

Seasonal interest planting spreadsheet

So before dashing off to the garden centre, create a year-round garden planner where you can identify the plants that will bloom each season in your garden. Excel is perfect for this; if you enjoy a chart. A planner will not only help you keep track of what you have planted, but it will also allow you to add garden notes or other thoughts as well as pictures. 

The key to providing year-round interest is to have a strong backbone of shrubs and trees. These structural plants will prove especially useful in the winter months, when herbaceous perennials lie dormant below ground. Go for shrubs and trees that look good in different seasons, for example those bearing spring blossom and colourful autumn foliage.   

Blossoms
Photo by Bruno Thethe on Unsplash
Photo by Yoksel 🌿 Zok on Unsplash 

Recently, I designed a scheme with a backbone, repetition of 2 different Euphorbia (early flowering colour and evergreen) and Cornus which have flowers in late spring, great foliage backdrop in summer and impactful red stems in Winter. 

Euphorbia
Euphorbia
Cornus
Cornus

Spring Planting 

Crocus
Tulip

Early spring bulbs are ideal for infusing your garden with vibrant coloured plants in garden borders.  

Snowdrops and Crocus make a beautiful early spring combination. They are both naturalising bulbs, so you can enjoy their beauty year after year. Plant around shrubs, trees or scattered in the lawn for a natural effect.  

Snowdrops
Snowdrops

Clematis montana is one of the early spring flowers, it’s also one of the easier clematis to grow and does not need regular pruning, Clematis mix well with most garden plants. 

Summer Planting  

Seasonal interest planting - Summer planting
Salvia and Guems

Spring is a great time to plan your summer planting schemes. Getting plants or summer bulbs planted in spring gives them time to settle before waking up in their new location, so they’ll establish quicker and create a good display in their first year.   

Think varieties like Salvias and Geums with long or second flushes of flowers through the summer months, as well as easy to grow plants like lavender and coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) for late summer, you can try your hand at dahlias and hydrangeas too. 

Autumn Planting 

Seasonal interest planting - Autumn planting
Hardy plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides). Photo by Gwyn Vandergaast on Unsplash  

Although Summer has come to an end and Autumn has arrived there are still plenty of plants in your garden that can give colour and interest right through autumn and up to the beginning of winter.  

Aster × frikartii ’Mönch’ produces delightful flowers until the first hard frosts. It will continue blooming into the winter in sheltered gardens or protected positions. Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica ) gives year-round colour with its yellow-green leaves in summer which then turn bright red as the weather cools in autumn. Hardy plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) is a reliable performer for a sunny spot, with sky-blue flowers blooming for weeks on end in September and October and it is much loved by pollinating insects.  

Winter Planting  

Seasonal interest planting - Winter planting

Winter gardens are becoming increasingly popular as our changing climate brings us out into the garden more often during the winter months. There is no need to settle for an empty, desolate outdoor space once the summer and autumn colours are gone. There are plenty of options for colour, scent, shape and interest to enjoy in a winter garden. I wrote a blog giving tips specifically for the winter months. 

Seasonal interest planting - Winter planting

Winter is a more subtle month in the garden, as most of the flowers are not large or showy at this time of the year. It is, however, the time to admire the structure of evergreens, architectural foliage, parchment-toned grasses, vibrant stark stems, beautiful barks, berries and delicately scented flowers. 

Seasonal interest planting - Winter planting

I particularly enjoy the way frost plays on upstands of grasses and seedheads.  

So, start planning now! See that’s an order 😉 November is a great time to get your spring bulbs in. Then you can start building your seasonal interest planting out from there, one season at a time.  Resources like the RHS and Crocus give great guides on the interest periods for a huge range of plants.