Purple Wellies

One woman's musings of plant lust for intoxicating blooms

Autumn Florals

Bulb planting season is nearly upon us again. A few choice bulbs choose to flower now, like Sternbergia lutea. Similar to the autumn crocus, this is one to try if you have a free draining border against a sunny house wall where nothing else will grow. To see us through to autumn with its gossamer, downward facing heads is Gladiolus papillo and the copper-tinted flowers of Gladiolus dalenii subsp. dalenii.

If your garden suffered during the summer drought, then you might consider adding plants which enjoy a free draining situation. Vitex agnus-castus with its aromatic, buddleja-like flowers and Lespedeza thunbergii ‘Edo-Shibori’ with racemes of bi-coloured white and pink pea flowers fit the bill. Both have long seasons covering July to October and are wildlife friendly.

Brown patches on lawns caused by drought will quickly rectify themselves when the rain comes and temperatures fall. Feeding with an autumn lawn feed, high in potassium, raking and aerating the grass will give it a quick boost.

Start harvesting autumn raspberries and dig up main crop potatoes before slug damage spoils them. Ensure they are completely dry before storing. If you still have unripe tomatoes, try hanging a banana or two by the plant. It naturally produces ethylene gas which promotes ripening of the fruit. If you haven’t the space for tomatoes then next year consider the diminutive ‘Patio Plum’. At a petite 45cm high this could even fit on a balcony with its snack sized fruit.

September is ideal for applying biological controls of nematodes to keep on top of vine weevil grubs which are starting to hatch. They love to munch through roots of container plants. Plants in the ground are rarely touched with exception of heucheras, strawberries and sedums which are top of their menu.
If your houseplants have been outside over the summer then now’s the time to reduce watering and bring back inside. Check pots for slugs and snails first unless you want unwanted house guests.

Vibrant displays of autumnal foliage are evident when a dry summer is followed by a period of dry sunny days and cool, but not freezing, nights, but that said there aren’t many plants that will give us displays of flower and foliage together. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ is one such plant. Flowers begin white, then pink before changing to rich crimson. The oak shaped leaves are deeply lobed, and metamorphosis from deep green to mahogany, come the autumn. After leaf fall beautiful exfoliating bark is revealed on the stems. A real all-round performer.

As temperatures fall why not take yourself off to a garden or arboretum for a leisurely stroll to admire the trees in their most colourful finery.
Posted: 15/09/2018 20:30:40 by Pamela Barden