Shrubs with autumn colour and lessons learned from this summer in my garden.
By Sarah Wilson
As we approach autumn we look forward to the reds and oranges of our trees and the berries of late summer but do you have any shrubs, which are at their best in late summer? In my garden are three lovely autumn shrubs:
Stachyurus praecox is a large shrub which has long yellow tassels in spring and in autumn the leaves turn a pinky red colour which makes it a very “garden worthy” shrub.
Everyone knows the shrub Euonymus fortunei – small evergreen bushes with either white and green or yellow and green variegated small leaves. There is another Euonymus – alatus, which has unusual corky stems and small, leaves that turn bright red in September.
The third shrub is Clerodendrum trichotomum – this has small fragrant flowers in August and September that are followed by bright blue berries, which last, into winter.
If your garden lacks colour in September you could plant some of the infamously named “Kaffir Lily” or Hesperantha coccinea.
This is surprising plant – looking like a dull bunch of leaves until September when it puts out some really bright pink lily-like flowers which will still be there in December. It needs to be in a fairly damp site where it will multiply and bloom – one of the plants in my “no maintenance border”
If you are looking for a really strong, disease-free rose try Rosa bonica. I planted one in spring and it has been really lovely, a small compact shrub with green, glossy leaves and repeat- flowering bright pink semi-double flowers. It has the `RHS award of garden merit.
Reflecting on this summer I need to remind myself to do the following gardening tasks next year:
- Either do the ‘Chelsea Chop’ or stake the big Sedums (now called Hylotelephium) as they are looking very floppy and need some support. Despite flopping over the flowers are covered in bees.
- Stake the tall Helenium, sunflowers and Thalictrum – they are lovely plants but have grown so tall this year that the recent wind and rain have battered them down.
- Keep an eye on newly planted trees and shrubs even if there has been lots of rain – if they are planted in a dry place they will need extra water or they will wilt – keep watering until they have good roots – usually two years after planting or transplanting.
- Pick runner beans every other day – if you leave them too long they are tough and stringy but picked regularly they are tender and so delicious.
- Trim evergreen hedges in August when they can be reshaped and reduced and give more light to surrounding areas over the winter.
- Deadhead Astrantia, roses and Geranium regularlyso they will produce a second flush in September.
- Feed all roses with a rose feed after you deadhead the first flush of roses – this really does help keep them strong and healthy.
And finally a question for all you keen gardeners – can you grow ornamental grasses?
I gave up on grasses when, after five years, some clumps of dull green grass in our border did not show any sign of growth or flowering. Last Autumn I planted several Pennisetum and all have now disappeared.
Of all the grasses I planted only the Miscanthus, Briza and Zebra grass have produced any flower heads – do grasses grow well in your garden? Can you grow any of the Calamogrostis family or
Molinas? Do you think they need lots of space and light? Do they have special soil needs? Any help with growing ornamental grasses gratefully received!
Dr Sarah Wilson, a long time resident in The Warren, regularly opens her garden in the summer months with the National Garden Scheme.
To contact Sarah please click here