Finding some autumn colour at Malvern Flower Show

GOING to gardening shows is always a really good way of getting tips and ideas from industry professionals, as well as being a good place to see new products being launched. This weekend I travelled up to the Malvern Flower Show, searching for something to give some height to my borders at home.

My garden has flower borders running along both sides of it, with a few shrubs dotted here and there. At different times of the year, the borders are completely full of colour.

Every year I plant hundreds of bulbs which are staggered to come up during the spring months and the order of things is reassuringly the same – snowdrops bring the first hope of life for the New Year, closely followed by crocuses, and daffodils and tulips coming not far behind. I try to add some other things as well – like muscari and snakeshead fritillary.

The summer brings with it a scattering of wildflowers, sown from seed each year, and of course the wonderful old English roses which were in the garden when I first moved here.

The one season when my garden is really bare though, is the autumn. All of the hurly burly of the summer flowers has gone, the energy and excitement of the season feels far behind.

Rather than smelling the sweet smell of honeysuckle nectar, or jasmine on the air when I walk outside, there is the sharp bite of frost. It is at this time of year when I always look for something to fill the gap.

Some grasses will have gone over by this time of year, of course, but I went off to the show with the plans to talk to one of the grass specialists that I knew would be there. I was looking specifically for some grasses which would be tall, and which would add some much needed height and movement. It took me almost all day to find what I was looking for, and I had almost given up hope, but I came home with bags heavily laden with four good scabiosa plants – with petals the colour of unspilt tears, and a selection of different grasses – some in a lovely red colour, and some with excellent height to give some structure to the flower beds.

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It is sometimes difficult to envisage how you want your garden to look, especially if you are starting from scratch, or trying to make a drastic change to what you currently have. Visiting the show gardens at any of the big flower shows is a good way to take in a whole garden theme, and there are very few ideas which can’t be transferred to a smaller space with a little imagination. This month, I’m really looking forward to the Pumpkin and Apple Gala being held at Luton Hoo on the October 13, and will be telling you all about it in next month’s column.