Flower farm: Autumn jobs
This season in the flower farm Linda gives advice and plans for Autumn;
Planting liliums, gladioli, admiring the buddleia and ordering spring flowering bulbs.
Lilium 'Tiger babies'. Photo - Robin Powell
Liliums are the go-to burst for flamboyant summer sizzle. Each bulb gives a cluster of trumpet blossoms that get bigger and better each year. They offer drama in pots or dotted in clumps through the garden, held up by achillea or Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’. Try shell-pink ‘Tiger Babies’, coppery-pink ‘Jessica Pearl’, burgundy-black ‘Matrona’ or the black and white tips of ‘Netty’s Pride’. Even the plain old white November lily is hard to fault. Each bulb needs to be staked with a thin bamboo stake before planting – this holds them up and helps you locate them when they’re dormant.
It’s time to plant gladioli. They’ll flower in spring alongside roses, bearded iris and lavender. Try peachy G. salmoneus, pictured here, or the hot pink of G. communis ‘Byzantinus’. Clump groups of bulbs generously, 10cm apart.
Gladioli communis byzantinus.
The burgundy dots of Allium atropurpureum share a patch with monardia and salvia, above. In warm climates, the drumstick allium (A. sphaerocephalon) is more reliable, with the same floating effect.
The ‘Buzz’ buddleias offer 10 months of purple, plum, lilac or sky-blue, honey-scented flowers that attract butterflies, honey bees and teddy bear bees. We like pendulous ‘Wisteria Lane’. All shrubs in the range are just 1.5m tall. Finished flowers should be trimmed to push the next lot along. Hard prune by 40 percent in late winter.
Annuals to plant now include sweet peas, poppies, primula, polyanthus, cineraria and pansies.
The minty fragrance is reason alone to plant hummingbird mint (Agastache) but it’s also great for holding up alliums and liliums in the border, and is perfect for posies. It flowers throughout the warm months and should be hacked back right back in late winter.
Bundles of Budleia.
Chocolate cosmos is famed for its scent but we also love the way its small, dark-burgundy daisy-like flowers seem to float and hover in the air. We’re enjoying a version called ‘Eclipse’ paired with delicate ivory flannel flowers - would you believe!
If you like your roses in soft parchment and porcelain tones, specialist rose nurseries and catalogues for ‘Julia’s Rose’, ‘Soul Sister’ and ‘Stainless Steel’.
Yarrow (Achillea sp.) has had a makeover and longer-flowering varieties in new colours are now on the market. Mix sof,t clotted cream and pineapple shades with lilacs and silvers. The stronger mango colours mix well in a vase with Agastache ‘Sweet Lil’.
Divide overcrowded clumps of bearded iris by lifting the clump, separating the rhizomes, and cutting the foliage back to about 10cm. Replant at soil surface to allow sunshine to develop more flower buds - in warm climates, cover with a centimetre or two of soil to prevent scalding. The iris shown here is the new ‘Sandra Ross’ from Rainbow Ridge Nursery, as elegant as its namesake!
Order catalogues from specialist bulb nurseries and get the highlighter out to make plans. Imagine colouring spring with daffodils, ranunculus, anemone, jonquils, ixia, lilium and gladioli. Plant out in Easter, two weeks after digging soil improvers, such as blood and bone, potash, dynamic lifter and cow manure into planting areas.
Iris 'Sandra Ross'