You've been automatically redirected - this is the new home for our blog posts - please update your bookmarks to

Designing a colourful garden for year-round interest

Bright pink viburnum shrub

Make the most of your outdoor space by designing and planting a colourful garden for year-round interest! With a little planning, your borders and patio pots will delight you with a display that keeps on delivering – from the first spring bulbs to sizzling summer flowering plants, and blazing autumn leaf colour to wonderful winter berries and structure.

Here’s our seasonal guide to what to grow in your garden for maximum interest.

Spring garden colour

Border of yellow daffodils
Plant daffodils en masse to brighten up beds and borders
Image: Narcissus ‘Cornish Rosemoor Gold’ from Suttons

Spring-flowering bulbs add colour to the garden from as early as February each year and can be planted between September and December. For a cottage garden look choose daffodils, bluebells, snowdrops, lily of the valley and crocuses, plus tulips of course! Many bulbs are perennial, flowering year after year, and spreading to form a carpet of colour. For planting tips read our spring-flowering bulbs guide.

Plants that flower each spring include common primroses, pansies, violas and wallflowers – available as seeds or as plug plants and delivered ready to plant out in containers, beds and borders.

Spring-flowering trees and shrubs offer fabulous foliage and delicate blooms that provide vital early-season nectar for pollinating insects. Popular varieties include clematis, weigela, azalea, magnolia, forsythia, camelia and wisteria. The blossom of fruit trees – like apple, cherry and plum – make these trees highly attractive and productive addition to borders and containers.

Summer garden colour

Dark pink cosmos with green foliage
This gorgeous dark red cosmos is perfect for cut flower displays
Image: Cosmos atrosanguineus ‘Cherry Chocolate’ (PBR) from Suttons

As the flowers of spring start to fade, it’s time for the summer superstars to appear! For the best summer colour, consider planting a mix of bulbs with annual bedding plants, plus perennial shrubs, climbers and trees for structure.

Popular summer-flowering bulbs include agapanthus, allium, lily and tree lily, dahlia, gladioli, begonia, and crocosmia.

For beautiful blooms, summer-flowering bedding plants won’t fail to deliver! Customer favourites include the fabulously fragrant sweet pea, glorious geranium, plus petunia, busy lizzie, antirrhinum, lobelia, rudbeckia and cosmos. For perennial colour, ideal choices include salvia, phlox, leucanthemum, delphinium, and anemone.

Flowering shrubs to choose for summer include the beautiful buddleia, hydrangea, lavender, and daphne. For vertical accents offering clouds of colour, opt for popular summer-flowering climbing shrubs including clematis, jasmine, honeysuckle, passion flower, and wisteria.

Autumn garden colour

Stripy blue and white primrose flowers
The unusual striped blooms of ‘Moonstone’ look great in containers or hanging baskets from October through to February
Image: Primrose ‘Moonstone Mix’ from Suttons

Summer may officially be over, but the warm weather means we still spend a lot of time outdoors each autumn. For a fantastic fall display, plant autumn-flowering bulbs in late summer – many dahlia and begonia varieties favour the autumn climate – including oxalis, nerine ‘Bowdenii’, saffron crocus, and fragrant acidanthera murielae.

Popular autumn-flowering bedding plants include pansy, polyanthus, primrose, and wallflower or choose perennials such as anemone, rudbeckia, aster, fuchsia, antirrhinum, and penstemon.

Autumn is a season where trees and shrubs truly shine, with acer (Japanese maple), cercis, amelanchier lamarckii, euonymus, cotinus, and cornus giving glamourous displays as their leaves change colour before falling.

Find out more about adding autumn colour over on our blog and discover the perennials, shrubs and trees for beautiful blooms, berries, plus fiery foliage.

Winter garden colour

Colourful bouquet of hellebore flowers
Hellebores provide early pollinators with a much-needed food source during the winter months
Image: Helleborus Lenten Beauty Mix from Suttons

Once the autumn flowers have faded, and deciduous shrubs and trees have dropped their leaves, the structure of your garden becomes visible. For architectural interest, trees and shrubs with coloured or intricate branches come into their own – including Cornus sanguinea – and evergreen foliage, including holly, photinia, bay, and cotoneaster.

For beds, containers and baskets, winter bedding plants add great value colour when and where you need it most, with varieties including pansies, cyclamen, polyanthus, and viola. Our horticultural team has shared their favourites in our winter bedding article

For perennial colour, hellebores (Christmas roses) bloom with long-lasting flowers and create valuable evergreen ground cover with their handsome leaves. Other excellent evergreens include bergenia, ajuga reptans and beautiful black grass-like ophiopogon Planiscapus.

Winter-flowering shrubs include mahonia, quince, sweet box (Christmas box), witch hazel, viburnum × bodnantense, plus climbers such as winter jasmine and winter clematis. 

Now you know how to add year-round colour to your garden, so start planning your space and order your plants and bulbs – we’ll deliver them at the perfect time for planting!Keen to know more? Read our article to find out how to build layers of scent and discover fabulously fragrant shrubs to delight the senses.

Lead image: Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ from Suttons

Share this post


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *