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What to plant in autumn to brighten your community

Planting bulbs, wildflowers and trees is a brilliant way to cheer up your home and community, and you don't need as much space as you might think. A little space goes a long way! Discover our top tips for how and what to plant to brighten up your local area.

What to plant in autumn

Autumn is a great time to get things planted. The soil is still warm and moist from summer, which helps seeds to germinate. That said, keep an eye out for early frosts or bad weather and consider covering up the ground or pots you’ve planted in if the weather turns cold very quickly. Existing materials like sacking and well-secured bubble wrap can make good insultation to wrap around your pots.

Our experts at Eden have put together their favourite things to plant over the winter.


Sweet peas are brilliant to grow this time of year, as well as hardy annuals such as:

  • cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus)
  • devil’s-bit scabious
  • Ammi majus



Look for bulbs that will benefit pollinators, such as:

  • allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’
  • winter aconite Eranthis hyemalis
  • muscari armeniacum



Some good vegetables to get planted this season are:

  • leeks
  • kale
  • winter green cabbage
  • purple sprouting broccoli



Look for local fruit varieties of apples and pears – they’ll provide you with a feast next autumn!

The experts at Eden share their tips

Free trees for communities from The Woodland Trust

You can apply for free trees from The Woodland Trust to plant in your school or community. There’s a variety of options depending on which kind of space you have available. Applications are open now until January, with tree packs being delivered in March.

Choosing what to plant

You don’t need to have access to large green areas to inject some nature into your community. Depending on the shape or size of your space, we’ve put together our top planting suggestions.


I have a patio, alleyway, doorstep or window

Consider planting pots or window boxes. You can layer them with bulbs and other foliage to provide a variety of colour and textures throughout the year (see our autumn suggestions below!). Get creative with your planters – think about using old wellies, teapots or discarded sinks, or use brightly coloured paint to spruce up old plant pots. Old pallets can be nailed to fences to provide basic shelving. Once they’re planted up, they don’t need very much aftercare other than a bit of weeding and watering. Plant flowers in your street.


I have a patch of ground

You could sow wildflowers to create a mini wildflower meadow. It’ll burst with colour and be brilliant for bees, butterflies and other pollinators. How to sow wildflowers.


I have a raised bed

Why not grow some veg or herbs for your community to share? You can use old barrels or wheelbarrows as planters too – they work really well for veg such as potatoes, or crops of leaves like lettuce or spinach. Check out our advice on growing your own for The Big Lunch.


I have access to a bigger area of community green space

You could do a mix of the above, or consider planting trees or a hedge as well! They’re brilliant for wildlife, important for air quality and carbon capture and can provide abundant fruit and berries – what’s not to love?!

A group of people working together to put some soil in a planter. It looks cold - everyone is wearing hats - but there are smiles all round.

Autumn is a time to tidy up

Once the majority of plants have flowered and vegetables have been harvested, autumn and winter are a good time to tidy up any green spaces and prepare for next year. It’s also an important time of year to support wildlife as their food sources are much less abundant over the winter months.

  • If you’ve got trees that shed their leaves near you, why not create some leaf piles? Hedgehogs, frogs and other wildlife like to nestle up amongst dead leaves and twigs. You could create a little sign illustrating that wildlife might be sleeping there and ask people not to disturb them.
  • Don’t be too hasty to cut back everything – insects can spend the winter curled up inside hollow stems. If it’s not in anyone’s way, there’s no harm in leaving some things as they are.
  • Sometimes what’s good for wildlife can look messy for humans and are causes of angst in communities. Why not start a litter pick to shift the focus onto man-made rubbish and spruce up your local area? You may be surprised by how many people join if you’ve got a spare litter picker and high-vis, and it’s a great way to start open conversations about what you want your neighbourhood to look like.


A planter outside a pub filled with bright flowers

Working with Punch Pubs to create ‘Pollinator Pubs’

We’ve teamed up with Punch Pubs to help them make their pubs a haven for bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Participating pubs received wildflower seeds, crocus bulbs and a planting guide to help spruce up their spaces. We’re loving the results!

If your business would be interested in something similar, get in touch with our Head of Partnerships.

We’d love to see your efforts!

Take a before and after photo to send to us and we may feature them in a ‘neighbourhood glow-up’ series next year.