There’s more to au­tumn than gold

With Diar­muid Gavin If you’re not ready to give up on colour, pick flow­ers that bloom when the weather cools

Star Courier (Surrey & Hants) - - FRONT PAGE -

Au­tumn gar­den­ing tends to be as­so­ci­ated with the chang­ing colours of leaves, where green turns to gold and rus­set. But it is also a time for some flow­ers to give us their best – so there is still plenty of colour from blos­soms as well as fo­liage.

This week, I’m going to talk about re­vi­tal­is­ing sum­mer pots with some au­tumn glory.

The chrysan­the­mum comes into its prime this sea­son and can pro­vide you with flow­ers un­til Novem­ber and even De­cem­ber with the right care.

Pos­si­bly not the trendi­est of species, it’s the right time for a fash­ion­able rein­ven­tion in your plot. It is much revered in the Far East where it is the sym­bol of the em­peror in Ja­pan, and was of­ten de­picted in Chi­nese art through­out the cen­turies as a sym­bol of au­tumn and no­bil­ity.

The Korean and rubel­lum va­ri­eties are hardy enough for our cli­mate – they are known as gar­den hardy mums – and there are plenty of col- ours to choose from.

‘ Em­peror of China’ is an old va­ri­ety with lovely sil­very pink flow­ers opening from dark mauve buds. Also pink are the sin­gle daisy- like flow­ers of ‘ Clara Cur­tis’.

Look out for ‘ Nan­ty­derry Sun­shine’ for a zingy yel­low, or you may pre­fer the warmer tones of rus­sets and or­anges of ‘ Burnt Or­ange’ and ‘ Paul Boissier’.

Heucheras are a great choice for your win­ter pots. Also known as Co­ral Bells, they send up wispy flow­ers in spring and sum­mer but the main at­trac­tion is the fo­liage.

They have been bred in many dif­fer­ent colours so you’ll be able to pick ac­cord­ing to your scheme.

Deep pur­ples and ma­roons such as ‘ Black­berry Jam’ and ‘ For­ever Pur­ple’ con­trast beau­ti­fully with the vivid greens of ‘ Lime Mar­malade’ and there are va­ri­eties in crim­son, pink and apri­cot.

‘ Au­tumn Cas­cade’ is a mix of sea­sonal rus­sets and reds, and with a semi- trail­ing habit would be beau­ti­ful in your hang­ing bas­kets as well.

They don’t like to dry out, so main­tain your wa­ter­ing to keep them look­ing good. Oth­er­wise, they are pretty easy to care for and keep dis­ease free – as a bonus slugs and snails aren’t hugely tempted by them.

There are trays of at­trac­tive cy­cla­men in the gar­den shops at the mo­ment and it’s hard to re­sist their per­fect blooms in white, vivid pink and scar­let red com­bined with the dec­o­ra­tive fo­liage. Ask for hardy va­ri­eties – florist va­ri­eties will only sur­vive in­doors but Cy­cla­men hed­er­i­folium, for ex­am­ple, will not blink at frost.

Bear in mind when plant­ing au­tum­nal bed­ding such as cy­cla­men that they won’t be putting on much growth in win­ter, so ar­range them closely to­gether.

Green fo­liage is the nat­u­ral part­ner to any burst of colour and there are plenty of pos­si­bil­i­ties from the clas­sic top­i­ary box balls and spheres to pyra- mid lau­rels. These make el­e­gant fo­cal points in a pot and can be gar­landed be­low with some pretty vi­o­las, bel­lis peren­nis and polyan­thus.

For a less struc­tured ap­pear­ance in a pot, you could plant some hardy herbs such as sage and rose­mary, or use ev­er­green ferns and sedges.

Fi­nally, some house­keep­ing ad­vice – it is a good idea to re­fresh your plant­ing medium.

Throw out the old sum­mer stuff onto your com­post heap or in your bor­ders some­where.

If you’re for­get­ful about wa­ter­ing, po­si­tion your pots where they will catch some rain.

If you po­si­tion them in a shel­tered spot un­der the eaves near the house, you will need to tend to them reg­u­larly.

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