Fashionably late Perennials
Add fresh excitement to your autumn displays by including a selection of seasonal stunners to flower beds and patio pots. Several hardy perennials have been patiently growing all year, waiting for their turn to take centre stage. And now their time has come to burst into bloom, filling our gardens with vibrant colour.
Japanese anemones are always a favourite. Tall and bold, their simple flowers in shades from pink to white really celebrate the season. They’re adaptable too, growing in sites from full sun to partial shade.
Commonly called Ice Plants, the thick fleshy foliage of sedum varieties add interest throughout the year, from the moment it develops in spring. Varieties are available with foliage colours from green to grey and deep purple, and some with variegated green and white leaves look particularly impressive grown individually in small terracotta pots. Their flowers come in eye-catching colours from pure white to pink and red, proving as attractive to us as they are bees and butterflies.
Michaelmas Day is celebrated on 29 September and lends its name to one of the most valuable hardy perennials to flower through September and October, the Michaelmas Daisies. Many are varieties of the New York aster, Aster novi-belgii, but several other types of aster are available also. A succession of blooms gives asters long-lasting appeal, and they make great cut flowers too.
Verbena is another great performer, flowering over many months to really earn its place in any garden. It’s hard to beat the Argentinian vervain, Verbena bonariensis, valued for its tall, branching stems topped with clusters of purple flowers. Its airy growth habit means it can be slotted in among lower neighbours, growing-up and flowering above them. For patio pots try growing the more compact and bushier Verbena rigida instead.
As well as flowering plants, don’t forget that many perennials form attractive seed heads too, and these can be enjoyed right through autumn and into winter. Favourites include cone flowers (Echinacea and Rudbeckia), globe thistle (Echinops), sea holly (Eryngium), agapanthus, ornamental grasses, and bulbs like the Pineapple Lily (Eucomis).
So visit your local garden centres and nurseries now to discover a wonderful selection of fashionably late perennials that will transform your autumn garden, keeping the colour and interest going well into winter.
Favourite late flowering plants
A wide range of stunning autumn flowering plants are available, and the very best have been judged by the Royal Horticultural Society of being worthy of an Award of Garden Merit (AGM). Here are some of the most popular:
Asters and Michaelmas Daisies – such as Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’ and Aster ‘Little Carlow’.
Ice Plant (Sedum spectabile and other varieties) – such as Atropurpurium Group, ‘Autumn Joy’ (syn ‘Herbstfreude’), ‘Brilliant’, ‘Purple Emperor’ and ‘Ruby Glow’.
Japanese Anemones – such as Anemone japonica, ‘Hadspen Abundance’ – single pink, ‘Honorine Jobert’ – single white, ‘Königin Charlotte’ – semi-double rose-pink flowers, ‘Pamina’ – deep pink double flowers and‘September Charm’ – single rose-pink.
Verbena – such as the Argentinian vervain (Verbena bonariensis) and Hardy Garden Verbena (Verbena rigida).
Top tips for planning and planting
- When planning your borders always choose a selection of plants that flower at different times through the year so there’s always something colourful to enjoy.
- Plant taller growing autumn flowering varieties behind low growing summer ones so they’ll grow up above them once summer displays fade away.
- A small group of, say, three plants of one variety often looks more impressive than choosing three different things.
- Repetition works well in garden design. If you have a favourite plant then include several groups of it to help link different areas of the garden together.
- Some varieties of aster are very prone to powdery mildew disease that forms a white powdery coating over leaves. Prevent infection by spraying leaves with a suitable fungicide through summer.
- Leave old flowers on Verbena bonariensis to set seed and release this over the surrounding border to develop into new plants that will flower in following years.
Other popular Autumn flowering plants
- Bergamot (Monarda)
- Coreopsis grandiflora
- Cranesbill (Hardy Geranium)
- Eupatorium maculatum ‘Atropurpureum’
- Gaura lindheimeri
- Hardy Plumbago (Ceratostigma willmottianum)
- Ornamental Grasses
- Miscanthus varieties
- Monk’s hood (Aconitum carmichaelii)
- Pennisetum varieties
- Prairie Daisy (Machaeranthera tanacetifolia)
- Rudbeckia varieties, especially Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’
- Schizostylis (Name now changed to Hesperantha)
Source: HTA Plant of the Month
Photography: ©Adam Pasco