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Autumn Favourites

Autumn is the best season for planting in warm temperate, frost- free gardens. In cold areas, planting should wait until cold frosty weather has finished. I have chosen five of my favourite tough, drought hardy plants that combine beautifully, and grow easily, with no fuss. If you are planning a mini make- over, now is the best time to do it! Soil temperatures are still warm so plants will establish readily before cold winter weather. Next summer, your new garden will look superb!

Persian Shield (Strobilanthes gossypinus)

The silvery grey-green, almost pewter, felted texture foliage of Persian Shield makes it a handsome addition to the garden. It makes a fine contrast in any garden border. This evergreen shrub grows to 1m in good conditions. Give it full sun and don’t overwater! Persian Shield is drought tolerant once established and it grows well in pots too. Endemic to Southern India, it needs protection from frost.


Agave ‘Blue Glow’

A perfect companion for Persian Shield! This agave is strikingly beautiful, forming a rosette of vibrant blue-green leaves. Each chalky leaf is edged with finely toothed margin and coloured with a ribbon of reddish-gold, stunning when backlit by the setting sun. A dramatic accent in any garden border and great in a pot. Grows 30-60cm tall with spread of 60-90cm. Ideal for coastal gardens, it will also cope with cold temperatures and moderate frost. Can be planted as a group with a complementary ground cover such as blue chalksticks, Artemisia ‘Valerie Finnis’ and green santolina. Keep it clear of walkways because of its spiky leaves.


Blue Chalksticks (Senecio serpens)

This tough, true-blue coloured succulent looks great all year round. Well named for its narrow stick-like leaf shape. Perfect as a ground cover in full baking sunshine, where its blue tips turn purple. In our driveway garden, it grows to 30cm and spreads to form a carpet. Needs good drainage, full sun or part shade, no frost and no watering once established. Easy to propagate from root cuttings. The dwarf form is equally enchanting, growing to 15cm so it hugs the ground and forms a dense mat of blue foliage.


Prairie Sagebrush ( Artemesia ‘Valerie Finnis’)

One of the best silver foliage plants that grows as a dramatic suckering thicket of large, jagged silver leaves. Tough, sun loving and drought tolerant, this artemesia thrives in poor soil provided it is well drained. Grows 30cm tall and spreads but not aggressively. Lovely in perennial borders as a foil. Suitable for herb, coastal and cottage gardens, adding light and contrast. The yellow flowers are best removed. Prune when it becomes leggy, and it will quickly re-sprout its silver leaves. Hard prune late autum.
 

Green Lavender Cotton (Santolina rosmarinifolia)

Soft, fragrant, evergreen and compact, this tough Mediterranean plant loves full sunshine and well-drained soil. The green form combines beautifully with our special selection giving a compatible green softness. Prune back when it gets leggy, and it will quickly regrow. Great for a rock garden, good border plant; I remove the yellow summer flowers. Hard prune late autumn or early winter.

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Author: WORDS: SANDRA ROSS | IMAGES: GRAHAM ROSS & SHUTTERSTOCK