It’s not just the inside of a property that makes a house a home – the garden is as important as any room and needs care and attention just like all the others. With each season there are things to consider with an outdoor garden and our gardening expert, RHS professional associate Darren Rudge is on hand to share his advice. Discover more hints, tips and guidance in our Gardening Ideas page.

Darren Rudge section divider

Autumn is one of my favourite times of year, with its arrival signalled by the change in leaf colour of our deciduous plants. We can marvel at the fabulous hues, tints and tones produced by our plants at this time of year due to the retraction of chlorophyll from their leaves; the process is called abscission and sees the start of plants slipping slowly into a period of rest and dormancy.

Autumn trees in a garden with wicker fence

Make the most of this colour as this period can pass quickly! With night frosts, and shortening (but sunny) days, plants are also encouraged to produce fruits and berries that will attract wildlife especially birds.

There are many plants to look out for that give you stunning autumn colour if you have the space in your garden. It must be said though that the maple family (Acer) of trees are the real Autumn stars for sheer breadth of size, shape and autumn colour; from large forest trees to small delicate Japanese varieties that are kept in patio pots.

Look around local parks, open spaces and other gardens and be inspired to put some autumn colour into your own garden. Plus, this may surprise you, autumn really is an excellent time to be planting and creating a garden space.

Garden plant with red leaves

Here are some of my autumn favourites to consider if you want to create a colourful garden

For deep wine red leaves try Acer palmatum ‘Blood Good’, finely divided leaves Acer palmatum ‘Garnet’ and for a brilliant gold consider the Acer ‘Sango – Kako’.

Other plants to mention at this time for colour and interest are Prunus sargentii, a stately tree turning red and Malus pumila ‘Cowichan’ which develops deep red fruits, and good old reliable Rosa rugosa for its hips joined by Amelachier Canadensis who’s leaves turn from green to auburn and then gold before falling.

Winterberries on a tree

Jobs to be doing in the garden:

- It’s a really good time to be planting or moving plants as the soil is still warm; and it’s also a good time to be dividing those overgrown perennials.

- Rake up fallen leaves and pile them to make leaf mould.

- Keep areas of empty soil well dug over and now is the time to take hardwood cuttings from shrubs and fruit.

- Trim your conifer hedges now if needed and if grown lift and store Dahlias, Gladioli and summer flowering bulbs.

- Lift and divide your Rhubarb and fix grease bands around fruit trees to catch pests trying to crawl up and lay eggs or overwinter.

Autumn trees with colourful leaves

Thinking of redesigning or planning your garden?

If you are looking to redesign part or all your garden, now is a good time to be doing this. Here are a few simple tips to get you underway.

- Firstly, take a sneak peek at what your neighbours have done; this will give you a good idea of what can be achieved in the space you have and the type of plants you can use.

- When planning take your time and consider what you have or what can be reused, what you want, what you need in your garden for example where’s the washing line going to go and storage for tools and machinery, plus what you can afford; a realistic budget is essential.

- Visit lots of gardens (online or as you drive past), read books and magazines, surf the internet for inspiration and take plenty of photographs of what you like.

- Go out to garden centres and if necessary, have a chat to a professional; they will normally do a consultation visit for free.

Man gardening using gloves

Happy gardening folks!


- Darren Rudge

The Laughing Gardener

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