Now, in late-October the shortening of daylight and inevitable drop in temperature has most definitely begun. Autumn is in full swing, leaving behind all the fabulous blooms of summer.
However, autumn and winter are the seasons for some more obscure beauties to come out. At Turning Leaf we pride ourselves on designs that last through every season by establishing the many late flowering gems that shine colour into gardens throughout autumn and winter.
As summer draws to a close and leaves begin to fall the soil begins to erupt with the first heads of Cyclamen. Over the coming months they begin to dominate the ground cover with their distinctive heart shaped leaves with light green and silver markings. The vast variety of cyclamen, which flower over autumn and winter, fill borders with whites, pinks and reds.
Cyclamen are easy to grow particularly in shady area and under trees. Their tubers need to be planted in the autumn, before the ground gets frosty, ready to flower the following year or in late spring. Cyclamen establish quickly, naturalise and many spread freely, so there is no need to buy and plant vast quantities.
Often associated with providing wild heathlands with its distinctive purple colour, Calluna vulgaris (Heather) is also an understated bedding plant.
Although it may appear out of place in a formal flower bed, it is a great plant for rockeries, banks and as an accompaniment for seasonal planting. Flowering in late summer and through the autumn, it can provide form in a bed as bulbs come and go whilst also offering colour later in the year when needed most.
Mahonia are also consistent evergreen shrubs which hold form all year round. It is in autumn and winter when Mahonia transforms, ejecting racemes of bright yellow fragrant flowers, which rest on its spiny leaves.
Mahonia x media are great for pollinators because they flower out of season to most other shrubs. Increasing the biodiversity of your garden, Mahonia fruits in winter with blue/black berries that birds love.
Most plants flowering in late summer will continue throughout October, especially with the warm and confusing weather we’ve been having!
Anemone The Japanese hybrid species in particular continue supplying colour in the garden throughout the autumn. Similarly Verbena flowers in late summer and continues throughout autumn. The heights on Anemone and Verbena are fairly similar thus can perfectly complement each other in the garden on those fresh autumn mornings.
Hydrangea is another classic late summer flower and, depending on the species, can continue flowering through into autumn.
There can even be a few surprise blooms coming out in the autumn. Last week our Turning Leaf maintenance Team noticed this Ajuga Reptans ‘Atropurpurea’ beginning to flower again! This evergreen ground cover is great in autumn and winter for its colourful foliage.
Perhaps some late sun has confused the Ajuga of the seasons, or maybe our designers found it the perfect spot, either way these new blooms in mid-October bring the ground level back to life.
Encouraging the bloom
Mid-late summer flowering plants sometimes keep flowering through autumn with a bit of encouragement from maintenance. Any experienced gardener knows that simple dead heading can keep some of the last flowering summer blooms going.
Penstemons and Roses, although classic summer blooms, are perfect examples of blooms which can be encourage to continue splashing colour across a bed throughout autumn.
Penstemons may look delicate but dead heading the spent flowers down to a new shoot on the stems not only helps bush out and maintain vigour but also focuses energy on any new flowers which may be emerging.
The same principle works with Roses, not only does deadheading keep them looking neat, but it also benefits the plants growth, useful if you are training a rose into a decorative form.
So, even with the winter days approaching, don’t give up on the garden and those colourful blooms. What’s more, there’s plenty garden aspects to catch attention in winter after most petals are fallen…
We will continue soon with our best of plants for winter.
If you would like help realising the full potential of your garden we provide a full range of services: ‘Design, Build, Maintain’ so don’t hesitate to contact us! Alternatively for more professional advice on garden maintenance and design tips keep following our blog.