The last of the sum­mer vines

Au­tumn may be upon us, but don’t be down about the change of sea­son, it of­fers the prom­ise of some ex­cit­ing new plant­ing projects

Gloucestershire Echo - - YOUR GARDEN -

I’VE been a bit slug­gish in ac­cept­ing the new sea­son. But now I’m quite en­joy­ing this pe­riod of gar­den change. It’s one of those gardening things that the re­gret in los­ing spring and sum­mer with all its lush growth, beau­ti­ful flow­ers, scents and ev­ery­day change is soon re­placed by the joy of other projects. At the mo­ment the ground is still warm and moist af­ter tor­ren­tial down­pours, so we are into the plant­ing sea­son. I’ve eyed plants in oth­ers’ gar­dens through the sum­mer and now I can make plans to add them to my own. But my first job is plant­ing up pots and con­tain­ers. Noth­ing her­alds a new sea­son like a fresh dis­play in pots at the front door or newly planted win­dow boxes, so let’s see this week what we can do to put au­tumn in a bowl. Some of your sum­mer bed­ding may be limp­ing along at this stage – if so, con­sign them and the soil they were planted in to the com­post heap. You want to give your new bed­ding the best pos­si­ble start and this will be with fresh com­post that is full of good­ness. Oth­ers may have a cou­ple of weeks left in them – I’ve some neme­sia and ar­gy­ran­the­mums that are still go­ing strong so I won’t touch them yet. Gar­den cen­tres are full of op­tions at the mo­ment, with tray-loads of cy­cla­mens. These are great for an in­stant pop of colour and the vi­brant pinks, reds and crys­tal-clear whites will brighten up the dark­est days. Ask for hardy va­ri­eties as the florist va­ri­eties won’t sur­vive un­less pro­tected in a porch. I’ve paired them here in a clas­sic ter­ra­cotta pot with some pretty white and pink heathers. Trail­ing small white-leaved ivies and some pur­ple and white gen­tly fra­grant vi­o­las com­plete the pic­ture. This is a sim­ple, low-main­te­nance ar­range­ment and the flow­ers will pro­vide valu­able au­tumn nec­tar for wildlife. There’s not go­ing to be a huge amount of growth over the next few months, so it’s best to plant densely to give a full ef­fect. For the win­dow box ar­range­ment, I’ve used a light-coloured pot which com­ple­ments the deep pink heathers and cy­cla­mens. I’ve also added some mint to this dis­play. Although this will die back in the win­ter, for the mo­ment it’s a zingy fresh green and aro­matic, and it will re­turn in spring. You could also add hardy herbs such as sage, bay, rose­mary and thyme which look good as well as be­ing use­ful and can be mixed through or­na­men­tal flow­ers or grouped as a miniature herb gar­den. Other au­tumn con­tainer pos­si­bil­i­ties in­clude heucheras with their mar­ble fo­liage, ever­green grasses such as Fes­tuca glauca, carex, ever­green ferns and hardy sem­per­vivums which colour up beau­ti­fully in win­ter frosts. As we en­ter Oc­to­ber, it’s also a great time to get your spring bed­ding in place. Wallflow­ers, for­get-me-nots, bel­lis and sweet Wil­liam can all be planted now so they have a chance to root in while it’s still mild. They won’t do much else over the com­ing win­ter but next spring they’ll be ready to bloom along with your spring bulbs – and it’s cheer­ing in the dark depths of win­ter to have some­thing truly glo­ri­ous to look for­ward to in the spring!

I’ve been a bit slug­gish in ac­cept­ing the new sea­son. But now I’m en­joy­ing this pe­riod of gar­den change

Diar­muid’s pretty dis­play of heathers, cy­cla­mens and white-leaved ivies For­get-me-nots

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