Autumn for many gardeners is the most difficult season. The beautifully floriferous garden of summertime is fading, some perennials are starting to yellow and die back and yet the potential for the garden is not yet over for the year. So what is gorgeous in the garden now giving colour and form in October and November?
Sedums are great for late autumn colour and although they have been renamed Hylotelephium, most gardeners will still refer to them as Sedums. They should be planted in full sun if possible but will tolerate some shade. Sedums prefer poor, dry soils and are very drought tolerant but they will thrive in almost any soil that does not get waterlogged.
Nerines have long-lasting, lily-like flowers which bloom in late autumn in pinks, reds and whites. Nerines grow from bulbs and make great cut flowers. Most nerines are tender and in Scotland need to be grown in a greenhouse, but Nerine bowdenii can be grown outside in a sunny border and covered with a thick layer of mulch in winter.
Alstroemeria coming in a wide range of colours, is another great addition to the late autumn garden with its distinctive almost tiger-like markings. They originate from South America and are often called the ‘Lily of the Incas’ even though they are not actually a lily plant. Alstroemeria are tuberous perennials and like a free draining soil.
A garden favourite is Salvia ‘Amistad’ which can give outstanding colour right through until November. Salvia ‘Amistad’ is a bushy, upright perennial with rich, royal purple flowers and it is a sun lover. It can be grown in borders or pots and well-drained soil in full sun. Although a perennial, a wet, soggy, Scottish winter can kill it off so the choice is either to dig it up and kept it protected during winter or leave it in the ground but protect the roots and basal buds by covering in a thick layer of compost or bark chippings.
In a more shaded area, Astrantia thrive in woodland, shaded and partial shaded areas and they and like a moist, fertile soil. The name Astrantia derives from the Latin word ‘aster’ meaning ‘star’, which refers to the plant’s star-shaped floral bracts.They will flower for a long period, right up until the end of October if planted in a cool spot and like other perennials, once they get established, they will gradually spread.
It is very hard to overlook hardy geraniums in the garden for staying power. Geranium ‘Rozanne’ has been in flower since May, providing colour, interest and much welcome ground cover and will keep on blooming right into November.
Chrysanthemum, commonly known as ‘mums’, add a vibrant blast of colour to the late autumn garden in shades of oranges, reds, yellows, purples, pinks and whites. They will continue to bloom right up until the first frosts. As Chrysanthemums are the birth flower of the month of November, they are an ideal flower to bring some colour to your garden in November.