Discover autumn colour

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Fire and ice, parchment and pastels, earth metals – the autumn garden is rich in colour combinations just waiting to be discovered, says Val Bourne

The November garden is fired by vibrant contrasts. From the muted hues of plants retreating underground or losing their leaves to prepare for winter sleep, to the saturated colours of fiery autumn foliage, hips, stems and late flowers that linger into November.
Brown, beige and khaki dominate now, but low autumn sunlight picks up every detail and enhances the smouldering accent hues and makes them glow.
Aromatic silver plants will provide a steely backdrop for any of these colourful treasures and their foliage will give your seven-spot ladybirds and spiders a place to shelter, too. Leave these ‘ever-grey’ plants intact and cut them back in April when spring breaks through.
It’s a good time to make full use of colourful grasses in reds, browns, parchments and frosted greens. Use them to ring an ornamental acer or small tree, or weave them through an autumn border like a series of fibre-optic lamps. Fine-fronded grasses move and sway when it’s wet and windy, but will freeze-frame in frost to provide elegant ice sculptures. Use taller grasses as punctuation marks among billowing asters and make good use of all those earthy oranges, bronzes and golds. They’ll lift your spirits – even on a dreary November day.

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