PRE­CIOUS MET­ALS

El­e­men­tal bronze, cop­per and gold have an earth­i­ness that glows richly in sun­shine

Garden Answers (UK) - - Celebrate -

Bronze, cop­per and gold abound at this time of year and give the gar­den a soft, golden glow. Molinia caerulea arun­d­i­nacea ‘Karl Fo­er­ster’, a tall pur­ple moor grass, bears golden-brown flower spikes. The fo­liage and stems turn to warm gold once Septem­ber ar­rives, so it’s the per­fect foil for tall, soft-blue Aconi­tum carmichaelii ‘Arend­sii’. They make a great trio with the late, red-hot species poker, Kniphofia rooperi: the golden grass picks up the al­most-tri­an­gu­lar, soft-or­ange poker heads and the blue aconi­tum adds con­trast. The tall sil­hou­ette of the com­mon teasel pops up with this poker at Great Dix­ter and the dark thistly eggs on long legs of­fer a strong win­ter sil­hou­ette. Many trees colour up to cop­per and one of the best is prunus ‘Kur­sar’, an airy small tree that pro­duces down­ward fac­ing buds in win­ter, fol­lowed by pink blos­som. Fur­ther soft, cop­pery touches could in­clude the clas­sic waist-high dahlia ‘David Howard’, or shorter ‘To­tally Tan­ger­ine’ with smaller, dou­ble­cen­tred flow­ers. Fleece th­ese if frost is fore­cast and they’ll go on un­til early Novem­ber in mild years. Don’t dis­miss hardy, or­ange-toned chrysan­the­mums. ‘Chelsea Physic Gar­den’ pro­duces fully petalled dusky, or­ange-red f low­ers with bronze over­tones. ‘Paul Boissier’ is a green-eyed rich rus­se­tor­ange. Pot­ted chrysan­the­mums from the gar­den cen­tre can be treated as bed­ding. If you spot Chi­nese lanterns as a cut flower, stick the stems in a win­dow box or con­tainer to cre­ate an ef­fec­tive dis­play. Physalis alkekengi franchetii is of­ten in­va­sive in a bor­der, al­though you could leave it to its own de­vices if you have a sunny strip where noth­ing else grows. Warm co­coa and bronze also cast a spe­cial magic and some grasses have a metal­lic glint. Carex tes­tacea, New Zealand sedge, pro­duces a cas­cade of fine brown leaves that swirl round. Find it a sunny po­si­tion or grow it in a pot. Or try browner Carex co­mans ‘Bronze’ – the plant equiv­a­lent of a Pekinese dog. It also tol­er­ates damp con­di­tions. Fi­nally don’t be too keen to cut ev­ery­thing down. Am­so­nias, sum­mer-flow­er­ing peren­ni­als with tiny slate-blue stars, fade beau­ti­fully and, as the tem­per­a­tures fall, the fo­liage turns to liq­uid gold. They love some mois­ture and grow well with de­cid­u­ous ferns. The aptly-named re­gal fern (Os­munda re­galis) pro­duces feath­ery fronds that age to gold be­fore dy­ing back. In dry soils plant some of those stun­ning sil­vers in­stead for a full set of th­ese ma­jes­tic met­als.

Sil­very per­ovskia weaves among golden cala­m­a­grostis flow­ers and the bronze seed­heads of phlomis and veron­i­cas­trum

In­digo Aconi­tum carmichaelii ‘Arend­sii’ shine be­neath Acer pal­ma­tum ‘Aureum’

Kniphofia rooperi

Cop­per beech hedg­ing with pleached horn­beam

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