A beginner's guide to gardening: how to keep your garden looking spectacular until spring

The Royal Horticultural Society have a team of experts in their garden centres to advise you on what to plant in your garden.

The RHS garden centres have specialist growers to get their plants to the highest quality so they're ready for you to plant straight into your garden. - Credit: RHS

Whether you’re looking to transform your garden into a tranquil setting for late-summer BBQs, or keen to get planting for 2022, we’re here to help.  

Duncan McLean, head plant buyer for the Royal Horticultural Society Garden Centres, reveals what you should plant in your garden for a stunning springtime display.

Duncan’s top tips: 

1. Buy herbaceous plants – they will grow back bigger and better next year if they’re well looked after, and are great value for money. Summer perennials are ideal for filling gaps in displays and will be in full bloom in our RHS garden centres this August. 

2. Add evergreens to your outdoor space to for a splash of colour throughout the winter.

3. Select different varieties of plant to ensure you have a mix of sizes that will flower at different months throughout the year. 

Herbaceous plants can be bought at Royal Horticultural Society garden centres to decorate your garden borders.

Herbaceous plants tend to come back bigger and better each year, so are well worth your investment and time. - Credit: RHS / Lee Beel

Below Duncan shares some of his favourites:  

  • Dahlias – stunning and ideal flowers for beginners 

Dahlias are great for those who are new to gardening and come in a range of varieties that can be planted up until the end of September. Dahlias are available in a wide range of varieties and can fit most garden spaces from small containers through to four foot sizes and will add instant impact to your space.  

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I advise planting them at the same level as the soil, in a sunny spot, and giving them lots of water right away.

How to look after your Dahlias: Grown to be elaborate and flowery, Dahlias need a lot of water and good light, and as they reach optimum height, they require a larger container too. 

Top care tip: If it’s a good day to hang the washing out, your dahlias probably need a drink. 

A variety of dahlia called the Kilburn Rose', available at Royal Horticultural Society garden centres ready to plant.

A variety of dahlia called the Kilburn Rose', a perfect plant for beginners that will give your garden instant impact with low-level fuss. - Credit: RHS / Anna Brockman

  • Echinaceas – easy to care for, and fantastically bright 

Echinaceas come in a variety of colours and shades and are great for injecting personality into your outdoor space. They’re trouble-free and grown by specially selected nurseries.

RHS Garden Centres work with specialist UK growers who cultivate the plants to reach their best quality, so you don’t have to. 

With rigid upright stems and cone-shaped flowers whose petals sweep away backwards, Echinaceas flower in late summer, and will add a distinctive flair to any garden or container.

How to look after your Echinaceas: Keep them cool and dry and out of direct sunlight prior to planting. Make sure to deadhead them so they continue to flower throughout the season. 

Top care tip: If you allow your Echinaceas to mature, goldfinches and tits will enjoy feasting on the mature seed heads into the winter months - a beautiful sight to behold as they clutch the stems to feed. 

Echinacea 'White Spider' available at RHS garden centres to plant straight in the garden.

Known for their backwards sweeping petals, echinaceas are ideal for adding some beauty to your outside area. - Credit: RHS/Annaick Guitteny

  • Alliums - an iconic autumnal bulb 

As you start preparing your garden for next spring, I recommend planting Alliums. They are a popular bulb to buy in autumn and should be planted as soon as possible from August onwards for brilliant displays next year.  

Bold, green foliage appears early in the season before blossoming into a stunning pom-pom that promises to impress your garden guests, whilst proving to be an attraction for bypassing bees. 

The best thing you can do is to buy the bulbs loose and plant them in groups of three and five or in long drifts. It’s important to remember where you’ve planted them so you don’t plant over them. 

How to look after your allium bulbs: Keep them cool, dry and out of direct sunlight prior to planting.  

Top care tip: Allium leaves can look a little untidy as they fade when the flower initiates. Some smaller herbaceous perennials will mask the foliage and allow the flowers to present themselves. 

Alliums blossoming in full display at RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey. Available at RHS garden centres.

Alliums blossoming in full display at RHS Garden Wisley. - Credit: RHS / Joanna Kossak

RHS Garden Centres have fantastic experts on-hand in-store to advise and answer any questions, no matter how big or small. So, whether you’re embarking on your gardening journey or are fully green-fingered already, they’re a great source of inspiration and advice before you get growing.

To find your nearest RHS Garden Centre visit shop.rhs.org.uk/store-locator

No booking or garden visitation is required to shop in RHS Garden Centres.