October in the Garden
My garden is starting to look distinctly ‘over’ at the moment, few plants are
still in flower and autumn colours and berries are few and far between. It’s
very easy to concentrate all the colour interest into the earlier part of the
year when purchasing plants from the garden centre. The majority of plant
types such as alpines and herbaceous perennials tend to look their best in
spring and summer. We tend to always concentrate on spring flowering
bulbs when there are many wonderful autumn flowering ones. So have a
look at the following suggestions for a bit of autumn enchantment and
remember this is one of the best times of year for planting while the soil is
still nice and warm.
• Autumn Flowering Herbaceous Perennials; include the Japanese
anemones, Anemone hupehensis and Anemone hybrida. The orange
and yellow daisy flowers of Heleniums such as ‘Moorheim beauty’
‘The Bishop’ are well worth space in a border. Keep the late bees and
butterflies busy with the structural flowers of Echinops ritro, these
flowers are tough enough to stay on all winter to give added structure
to the garden.
• Bulbs that flower at this time of year include the magnificent Nerine
for best results grow this one in free draining soil in a south
facing bed, it also makes a great cut flower for the house. Under trees
and shrubs in areas that are unlikely to be disturbed try planting the
autumn flowering hardy Cyclamen hederafolium, its 1-2inch wide
corm will grow to dinner plate size over the years and reward you
with hundreds of flowers if you can leave it undisturbed.
• Grasses don’t spring readily to mind when talking about autumn
colour in the garden but they flower just the same as all our other
plants and one or two of them are spectacular at this time of year. Try
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Flamingo’ and Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Carl
Foster’, which is reputed to withstand 100mph winds, if you are
looking for height.
• Alpine and low growing plants that look fantastic at this time of year
include one of my favourite plants; Persicaria affinis ‘Donald lowndes’
with its spires of pink flowers this is a must have plant. Others include
little Aster linariifolius with its beautiful blue daisy flowers and of
course a number of Gentians.
So there’s the excuse that you have been looking for to go to the garden
centre this weekend to spend some money and of course you’ll have to
have a coffee and some of that nice cake while you’re there……………….
Ann Burns is Team Leader, Horticulture and Landscape Construction, at SRUC, Oatridge
Campus. Scotland’s Rural College – SRUC was formed on 1 October 2012 by the merger of Barony, Elmwood and Oatridge Colleges and SAC (Scottish Agricultural College.