1) There is a small raised front bed, shaded by a laburnum tree. I have just dug a small forest of weeds up, and would like to plant something that looked vaguely bright and decorative during autumn. Any suggestions?
2) Ditto the large pot near the front door. Ideally something that won't perish the minute it gets colder.
As you can probably tell I am not very clued up about gardens/gardening!
Cyclamen are lovely, and if you buy the smaller ones, they have a wonderful perfume, or at least the white and pale pink do. The number of times I've sniffed at them to have garden shop owners say" They don't smell. Yes they do. Now if they could get the big ones to do the same...
heucheras are lovely - come in loads of shades/colours and the colours of the leaves change during the year. Cyclamen or pansies will provide some colour too. or you could get dogwoods. green leaves during the summer and then in the winter you get bright red sticks when the leaves fall off - look nice coloured sticks not just dull brown sticks if that makes sense.
I don't know many other plants. hellebores flower early in the year so might be worth looking at. if somewhere to put a climber then winter jasmine is lovely or a semi evergreen honeysuckle which flowers most of the year in my experience.
Are you looking just for autumn bedding, or something that you'll leave there all year?
If the latter, try heathers (though they like acidic, damper conditions), ornamental cabbage, viola's, cyclamen (though most types from garden centres are not hardy - i'e won't stand frost). Gaulthera has good berries.
If you're after year-long ground cover, then vinca (periwinkle) is nice - evergreen, nice flowers, can get variegated forms, or cornus Canadensis (white "flowers" in spring, red autumn berries) Maybe intersperse with winter-colour, eg small shrubs of eonymous (evergreen, variegated), skimmia (pyramids of red or white flower buds all winter, evergreen), sarcoccus (scented winter flowers, evergreen). they'd last year-t0-year.
I'm pruning a small-leaved berberis at present, and planning to replace it, hopefully with scented climber or similar. Problem: it's at corner edge of front garden, alongside drive and next to telephone pole, used by dogs at base and birds to perch on, so will need to be fairly tough. Remainder of front garden is shrubs and gravel, being labour-saving with privacy, but I need ideas please, for this important corner.