With severe hot and dry conditions continuing across our region, it’s hard to think of anything other than keeping our current garden plants alive with the limited water we have available. I wrote last month about drought hardy plants. Planting anything new in the garden at present will be a challenge, but I know most keen gardeners are optimists and plan ahead for what they want to see in different parts of their garden. So, I was prompted this month by a short article in a prominent gardening magazine to write about what to plant now for autumn flower colour in our gardens.
In our region, hardy flowering perennial plants that produce good colour in autumn include salvias. My favourites include Hot Lips (red and white flowers), Leucantha (blue flowers), Amistad (purple flowers) and its new “cousin” Amante (dark pink flowers). Other autumn flowering perennials include Japanese windflowers (Anemone), Chrysanthemums, Penstemons and one of my favourite succulent plants Sedum Autumn Joy.
Let’s not forget that there are a few bulbs which come to life and produce flowers in autumn too, Crocus and Nerines being the best for our region’s climate.
Looking for autumn flowering shrubs, it’s hard to go past Sasanqua Camellias that are great, hardy shrubs that can handle both sunny and shady positions in our gardens, come in a massive range of flower colour options and can be used as either specimen, stand alone shrubs or as hedging plants.
Although we regard roses as primarily spring and summer flowering plants, I am a great fan of the white flowering Iceberg Floribunda rose which, if managed correctly will produce multiple phases of flowers well into autumn too.
On the matter of managing plants to maximise autumn flowering, it usually helps to “dead head” or trim back spent or withered flowers on the plants I have mentioned, to get repeat phases of flowering later in the season.
Millthorpe Garden Nursery