Autumn Perennials – keeping the flowering season going
Many of the traditional English Country or Cottage Garden flowers like, roses, lupins and delphiniums are high Summer flowerers; looking their best in June – July. And if we are lucky enough to get a warm sunny Summer then their scents and colours look just fabulous during these months.
However, I have certainly found that of recent years June and July are not always the months that the weather is that conducive to being in the garden – I have spent too much time getting wet at Chelsea or Hampton Court to not remember wet chilly days in supposed Summer. I am as likely to want to be sitting out in the garden in August, September and even October and hence have been making sure that a lot of my designs have space for autumn flowering perennials and/or bulbs. With the mild weather we have been having I have had borders with flowers all the way into November, until the first frosts start damaging on them.
We have a lot to thank our nurserymen and women for increasing our selection of autumn flowering perennials and designers like Piet Outdolf and the writings of Noel Kingsbury for increasing the popularity of these plants.
A few of my favourites include:
Dahlias; which come in such a fantastic array of colours and shapes and different foliage colours that there really is one (or two or three..) to suit everyone – these do go through the winter in some of my beeds if covered with a heavy mulch (like Strulch), but may need to be lifted and brought inside
Echinaceas; otherwise known as cone flowers due to their prominent cone and reflexed petals. In addition to the more commonly seen Echinacea purpurea and its white version ‘White Swan’ there are some fantastic colourful versions like ‘Prairie Glow’ as well as green versions like ‘Greenline’ and ‘Green Jewel’
Asters (Michelmas Daisy); these come in the most fantastic zingy colours really lifting the autumn border. Try ‘Alma Potschke’ for a magenta pink, or ‘Violet Coombe’ for a deep violet/purple colour or the ever popular ‘Little Carlow’ for a softer mauve
Rudbeckias; these tend to be in the hot palette of colours, of yellow, orange and red. ‘Cherry Brandy’ is a particular favourite of mine.