A summer garden is often a reflection of how much gets done in autumn. The days can be long and sunny. There are plants to be divided, spring bulbs planted and lots of seeds to be sown for a promising start to the following year.
September to December is the time to plant spring flowering bulbs. They are so little effort for the effect you get in the spring. I like to plant some bulbs into the flower beds and others into pots. The pots can be moved around and placed on an outside table when in flower, to be enjoyed with the first outside coffee in spring. Sometimes smaller delicate spring flowers need to be seen close up to appreciate their full beauty!
Star of Bethlehem
Autumn is a great time to sow seeds. Clear some cultivated space in your garden, and sow hardy annuals or biennials:
- Love-in-a-Mist - typically blue flowers, but there are pink mixes now available Nigella 'Mulberry Rose'
- Hollyhocks, try something different Hollyhock 'Single Black'
- Annual poppies, my favourite this year was Poppy 'Mother of Pearl Mix'
- Ammi majus, lovely for naturalistic garden
- Cornflowers, try the original wildflower, or a cultivated variety such as Centaurea 'Black Ball'
- Toadflax, flowering all summer and right into late autumn, Linaria 'Fairy Bouquet' is a beauty
- Californian poppies, flowering much sooner with an autumn start, my favourite is Eschscholzia 'Ivory Castle'
Californian Poppy 'Ivory Castle'
- English Marigolds, such as a nearly-pink variety Calendula 'Pink Surprise'.
Sweet Peas flower earlier in summer when started in autumn. November is a good time to sow Sweet Peas. Try sowing 3 seeds per 9cm pot, keeping them in a cold frame or protected place, and plant them together into the ground or into a larger container in the spring.
- Climbing Sweet Peas are always lovely, and great to cutting - try Sweet Pea 'Blue Ripple', 'Apricot Sprite' and 'Royal Wedding'
- A pot Sweet Pea trails beautifully in a hanging basket - Sweet Pea 'Sugar 'n Spice' is worth a try
Sweet Pea 'Sugar 'n Spice'
Slightly-more-tender annuals can be sown in a greenhouse in autumn. Nemesias are good to sow in autumn as they take a while to get going and you get a head start. Nemesia 'Blue Gem' looked lovely this year. Clarkia was the big surprise of the year - Clarkia 'Pink Buttercups' is still flowering in October in a very attractive subtle pink. Try Snapdragons early. A dark leaved variety, Antirrhinum 'Bronze Dragon' adds contrasting colour to the garden.
Violas sown in autumn flower in early spring - try a green variety Viola 'Envy' for something different.
So, is a garden really made in the autumn? Perhaps, but maybe that is when I like to put in most of my effort. And besides, we are very busy in spring and I need to be here, indoors, tending our lovely customers in the spring!