Autumn has many moods. It can be clear and crisp or wet and dour. On days when the sun shines we may be treated to radiant colours or, if early storms have already torn the leaves from the trees, to a glimpse of the pared-down, monochrome palette that awaits us in winter.

After we have raked the leaves and added the last of the summer flowers to the compost heap, the temptation is to retreat indoors and sit out the cold months ahead, but to do that would be to miss out on some very special effects.

At Kemback House in Fife, autumn marks the start of one of the most exciting seasons in the garden, when sepia stalks and brown stems, stripped of flowers and foliage, take on a sculptural significance.

This medieval house has one of the best contemporary gardens in Scotland and in this issue of Scottish Gardener we not only feature its beautiful borders, but Colin McBeath, who is responsible for much of its innovative planting design, reveals which plants he relies on to create a winter garden that will stand tall whatever the weather.

Also in this issue we have a guide to some of the best tulips to plant now for a stunning spring display. With thousands of varieties to choose from, it can be tricky to make the right selection, so we've taken some of the guesswork out of picking beautiful, unusual and even scented tulips for your pots and borders.

Meanwhile we catch up with Alison Swanson on her allotment, find out what's happening in community gardens across Scotland and we bring you the latest updates on efforts to boost the wellbeing of Scotland's wildlife and wildernesses.

And if the weather does prove too stormy for leaf gathering, then settle back with our popular gardeners' crossword, and if you are the fortunate writer of our Star Letter, a very special dram from one of three 12-year-old Loch Lomond single malts, or take a tip from PlotLines and head for one of the wonderful winter gardens that can be found across Scotland. All kinds of tropical delights await within.

Agnes Stevenson,
Scottish Gardener Editor

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