To get a garden that really looks good all year round, a little planning is needed. The key steps are to take control of the garden, put in structure, and then fill it up with flowering plants. There will always be a high and a low season in the garden (even in the smallest of outdoor spaces) but it should never look completely devoid of colour. Take notes with our guide to achieving year-round colour in your garden.
First of all...
1. Whether it's a flowerbed or containers, it's a good idea to take a look at what plants you currently have. Decide what needs to stay and dig up everything else. This is a great first step, as if things don't look good now, they never will.
2. Next, put in some structure. A regular pattern of evergreens like box or yew around the garden will hold everything together. Box balls, set at regular intervals, may not even be seen in summer when everything else has filled out, but in winter they'll bring order.
3. Decide which season is important to you and prioritise the planting accordingly. We'd recommend either spring/summer or late summer into early autumn, where you can still enjoy your garden looking at its best with an abundance of colour.
Late summer and autumn: late-flowering perennials
Echinaceas, asters, verbena bonariensis and Japanese anemones will start to come through in July and still be going strong until the first frosts. Buy in quantities of fives and sevens, and when you plant, spread them out, interweaving them with other perennials and bulbs to create a tapestry effect.
Winter: flowering shrubs
Spring and summer: bulbs
From snowdrops in February to crocuses in March, tulips in April and May, and alliums in June, bulbs are guaranteed to provide a series of flowers – and plenty of colour. Buy in bulk to provide a good display. They look best in swathes, just throw them on the ground and plant where they fall.
Structure: evergreen shrubs
For small punctuation marks, every 30cm-50cm go for box balls at entrances or spaced along a bed. For larger full stops, up to 6ft high, try yew pyramids at either end of a bed.
• Keep in reserve
Not everything planted will grow, so it's worth having something to fill in any gaps. Keep some big pots on standby to fill with plants and put in a prominent position to add colour.
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