Apart from the lovely leaf colours on deciduous trees in this region in autumn it is not a great time for colour in our gardens. In this month’s Green Thumb, I wanted to highlight some tough perennials that are flowering in my garden at the moment.
Top of my list are salvias-some start flowering in summer and, with a bit of “dead heading” of spent flowers, are still a mass of colour in the garden now in mid-autumn. Salvia leucantha (Santa Barbara) forms a mound of grey/green foliage about 0.5m high and sends up long spikes of intense blue/purple flowers which continue to give colour for months. I recently noticed another Salvia leucantha cultivar, Pink Velvet, which has white and pink flowers on the same form of plant. Other salvias that have continued to give good colour from summer and into autumn are Mesa Red, Hot lips and Indigo Spires.
Another perennial with eye catching flowers in the garden at the moment is a shasta daisy (Leucanthemum) Daisy May. Big, white, long lasting daisy flowers on a compact plant of about 40cm high. These look great in a garden bed with the Salvia Santa Barbara mentioned above, as well as a couple of other tough, autumn flowering perennials such as Agastache Salmon Pink, Russian sage (Perovskia) with spikes of blue flowers and Wallflower (Erysimum) Bowles Mauve. This latter plant flowers all the way through winter and is extremely tough in frosty and dry conditions.
Erica melanthera (cultivar Ruby Shepherd) is a form of heath from South Africa that is covered in small pink flowers from autumn and into winter-another perennial growing up to1m that is tough to frost and dry conditions. Finally, it’s hard to go past sasanqua camellias which are flowering in gardens all over our region at the moment-from single, specimen shrubs to trimmed hedges of white, pink or red flowering sasanquas.
By Ian Rogan
Millthorpe Garden Nursery