Autumn Almanac.Published on 6th September 2018
For most people gardening in autumn is all about trees. The leaves turn, and burnished, float to the ground, their colours adding vibrancy to the dullest of days. Maples and Acers are the kings and queens of the season, producing burning oranges, glowing yellows and warm tones of red.
Glory in the spectacle, or begrudge the raking you know will follow, it is impossible not to be awed by the display – which is probably why the more earth-bound plants get a little overlooked as the year approaches its end. With a little bit of planning however, a gloriously floriferous autumn is within easy reach.
While the cottage garden and herbaceous border reigns supreme throughout the summer, prairie planting delivers autumnal splendour. Many grasses reach their zenith as the colder weather creeps in; the tall green stems of Miscanthus Sinensis filling the garden with a gentle susurrus and acting as a gorgeous foil for the pulsating reds and yellows of Helenium, Rudbeckia and Kniphofia. Garish orange Crocosmia will fill even the most awkward of spaces, while crimson Monarda ‘Squaw’ will add height and a bergamot scent early in the season, their large black seed heads later providing winter interest, becoming in a silvery cloak of frost.
Burnished Red Leaves & Autumnal Grasses reign in Kitchen Gardens across the land at this time of year.
For a softer colour palate Pennisetum Orientale, with its purple-grey caterpillar-like flowers and clumping habit work wonderfully well with amethyst Verbena Rigida, hot pink Echinacea Purpurea ‘Magnus’ and the lightly-scented pale pink and white Phlox Paniculata. For simple elegance there can be nothing better than certain varieties of Japanese Anemone and the fluttery, butterfly-shaped blooms of the Gaura.
Scent is more difficult to come by later in the year; with fewer insects to attract there is no need for plants to produce a perfume, but if you can’t wait for the heady aroma of forced winter Hyacinths and Narcissus, the zingy yellow spider flowers of Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Virginiana) and pretty white petals of Myrtus Communis should see you through. For a slightly later scent-ual show it is worth investing in a Mahonia, although this plant saves itself for the darkest months, producing flamboyant yellow flowers from November until early spring.
Although an Apropos conservatory, or other glass extension, makes it easier to enjoy your garden in all weathers, it can also make growing indoors a more practical solution, allowing you to exercise your green fingers throughout the year.
Citrus trees will happily reside in pots in your orangery all winter long – that is, after all, why these structures were originally made! – Mexican Orange Blossom will send tendrils of fragrance throughout your home, and Christmas Cacti will bloom with very little prompting if set in a room full of light, their alienesque flowers of pink, white and red rivalling anything that summer could offer.
The year may be winding down, but autumn is a time of colour. Get out and enjoy your autumn almanac while you can.
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