Like all gardeners I return from holidays anxious to see what is happening in the garden. In my absence this time, there have been gales and heavy rain so the colchicums which were looking so beautiful when I left are looking a bit dashed. That is the only fault with colchicums , they don’t look very attractive when they collapse in a heap. But still I have to include them amongst my favourite September blooms. The first to bloom in my garden are Colchicum autumnale and Colchicum autumnale ‘Album’. The name is a bit odd for flowers that start blooming in August.
My favourite colchicum is Colchicum speciosum ‘Atrorubens’. It doesn’t collapse so readily and it has a lovely purple stem and showy flowers.
I wrote more fully about colchicums last year and you can read about them here. For now, I will move on to a couple of plants that came through the storms quite unblemished and are looking lovely . So coming in at number two and number three on my list- first of all, we have what I consider to be the Rolls Royce of the miscanthus family, Miscanthus nepalensis. The plumes look as if they have been spun from silk. Unfortunately it needs a very sheltered place as it is slightly tender, although mine survived the winter happily in my secret garden.
As it is September I will go from some lovely grass plumes to some really weird berries. I grow several actaea plants because I love their fragrant flowers and attractive foliage. Actaea by the way is the name we now have to give to cimicifuga. But although Actaea pachypoda has spires of fluffy white flowers, I grow it for its curious berries which look just like a collection of dolls’ eyes.
Cyclamen hederifolium starts blooming in August and this is the time I give mine a bonemeal feed and a good soaking. But they are looking their best now and they lighten up shady spots under trees where nothing else would grow.
I have them in pink and white and the silver-leaved ones are particularly appealing.
Cyclamen cilicium is a little beauty with twisted, scented flowers and it is in bloom now too. It is a little tender so mine lives in a pot, but the corm is a mass of flowers.
Two late flowering clematis are looking and smelling good now. Clematis rhederiana has bell-shaped flowers and I can never resist flowers that look like little bells. They are pale yellow, fragrant and quite charming. One potential drawback is that it does grow very strongly and can quickly take over a wall. The other drawback is the cringe-making common name of ‘Nodding Virgin’s Bower’. The less said about that the better.
Believe it or not my other clematis is named ‘Fragrant Virgin’s Bower’. But let’s give it its proper name of Clematis flammula. It is a relation of the wild clematis that decks the hedgerows. It has clouds of very sweetly scented white flowers.
I have mentioned my lovely late flowering dianthus from Sicily before. It is called Dianthus rupicola and it has very long stems which make it good for picking. I have read that it is not reliably hardy but I have had mine for years.
Some people dislike kniphofias but I love them. Recent hybrids come in some amazing colours. My latest purchase is called Kniphofia hybrida ‘Rich Echoes’. I have seen a stand of this growing that looked wonderful. It has apricot yellow flowers and would look fabulous growing with a biscuit coloured grass.It was raised by Bob Brown’s son, Ed Brown. Bob has the wonderful nursery, Cotswold Garden Flowers and he has an huge collection of kniphofias.
Another kniphofia which I am pleased with is the one growing on my ‘beach’ in front of the shed. It has great foliage which makes it look like an aloe. It is Kniphofia caulescens. I grow it with the orange flowered sea poppy, Glaucium corniculatum which has the same glaucous foliage.
September is the start of the aster time, or symphyotrichum as we have to call some of them now. Plants of European or Asian origin are allowed to to remain asters. The reliable Aster frickartii ‘Monch’ starts blooming in early August and goes on for weeks. Beth Chatto said ‘it is absolutely the best Michaelmas daisy for long display and sheer beauty‘. I agree with her, it is wonderful. You can take cuttings in the spring if you want more.
Two other beauties are in flower are in bloom now. One is this lovely tall one and I can’t think of its name at the moment. Can anybody help me?
The other is the neat and compact Symphyotrichum nova -belgii ‘Purple Dome’.
Next month there will be plenty more Michaelmas daises to look forward to.
For my last plant I have picked a salvia. I am very fond of salvias and have quite a large collection. They are so easy both from seed and cutting. As this post is getting rather long I have chosen just one which is new to me this year. It makes a lovely big bush and the flowers look as if they are made from velvet. The leaves are narrow and willow -like and velvety in texture too. It is Salvia leucantha ‘Purple Velvet’. Unfortunately it is not hardy but I have taken plenty of cuttings.
So there is my list of September beauties. I would love it if you would chose your ten September favourites and share them with us. If you can’t manage ten, perhaps you could choose five favourites. It is always good to see what other people are enjoying each month.