Katie's Show Garden in Autumn

Katie Rushworth's Show Garden has enjoyed an Autumn makeover here at Tong.

The sunny – and rainy - summer has seen my show garden at Tong explode! The beds are overflowing and I’m thrilled with the sedum balls we created – they have filled out so well.

But now autumn is upon us, it’s time for a tidy and prune. We’ve cut the lavender back, removing the majority of top growth - always leave a little greenery on the plant as it will not recover from you cutting too far back into the old woody stems at the base. We’ll leave these over winter and they’ll burst into life again in late spring. We’ve also made some lovely changes to bring new interest to the garden as the seasons change!

Beds and Borders

When we first planted the garden, we created structure in all the beds so we could use seasonal plants to enhance the core planting.

In the bed next to the sandpit the summer display of Astrantia, Arenaria and Scabious have come to an end so we’ve cut them back (they’ll come again next year) and in the gaps we’ve planted Skimmia,Pieris, and pernettya - these plants bring wonderful autumn interest with their leaf colour and berries. I’ve also underplanted with Tulip Cultivar called Ballerina (orange) and Tulip Purple Dream, they’ll bring lovely colour in Spring.


Creating a border with year-round interest is critical for a garden to look great all year, and this can really only be achieved with at least half of the border planted with shrubs, herbaceous plants and evergreens, leaving the remainder to be filled with seasonal plants.

Many of us have a shady patch in our garden and I often get asked what will thrive without too much sun. The raised woodland bed in my show garden is shaded by the Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura Tree tree) so I’ve added bulbs – snowdrops and snake’s head fritillary for colour next spring. It also needed a good tidy so the hostas have come out, they’ve been well and truly munched and didn’t look great. The Digitalis (foxglove) and Dicentra have also been cut back. This gives us gaps that I’ve filled with Rhododendron, Skimmia, Pernyetta Gaultheria and Pieris.


Containers of colour!

I love containers of colour and, as this is the time of year to plant bulbs, I’ve filled the ones in my show garden with tulips – Ballerina and Purple Dream – a shock of orange and purple colour will look quite the show stopper when spring arrives. In the meantime, I’ve planted Heucheras with pansies and violas to keep the pots looking pretty all through winter.

Welcoming wildlife

As it’s autumn and winter is approaching, I want to make sure we look after local wildlife so the gabions are now filled with pine cones and you’ll see bird feeders and a bird bath.


The living roof

My favourite change is the living roof on top of the arbour. We’ve added batons to create a frame then lined it with a weed membrane and filled it with a mix of J.Innes No 2 and potting grit. These are the perfect conditions for alpines to thrive, so we’ve filled it with some of my favourites - it will look great all year round!

The perfect backdrop!

The planted wall makes such a statement and creates a terrific back drop for this versatile garden. I’ve swapped the nemesia for heathers to give it a lovely autumnal tone. These clever planters are self-watering so super easy to maintain!