Top Ten Blooms for October.

There is always a long awaited treat in October when my nerines come into full beauty. Some of them start in September, but October is the month when they are all strutting their stuff, each more lovely than the last. The bowdenii hybrids can live outside and they make ever larger clumps.

Nerine bowdenii


I particularly enjoy the pale pink Nerine bodwenii ‘Pink Surprise’. The flowers are so delicate.

Nerine ‘Pink Surprise’

The ones with sarniensis blood have to stay inside. The lovely vermilion-red Nerine sarniensis starts blooming in September but it has to live in the house in winter as it is too delicate for outside. It produces its leaves in winter and these would be killed by the first frost. I keep all my sarniensis/ bowdenii hybrids in an unheated greenhouse but I cover them with fleece when it is very cold. Favourites include the shimmering dusky flowers of  ‘Mr. John’.

Nerine ‘Mr. John’

And the huge dark pink flowers of Nerine ‘Zeal Giant’.

Nerine ‘Zeal Giant’

Gleaming white Nerine bowdenii  ‘Ella K’ should be hardy but I find that white nerines don’t seem to be as hardy as the pink ones. This one starts blooming in September.

Nerine ‘Ella K’

When ‘Ella K’ is going over then Nerine bowdenii ‘Alba’ takes over.

Nerine bowdenii ‘Alba’

Best of all though is my wonderful plant of the delicate Nerine undulata. This year there are 46 blooms in the one pot. I suppose I really should think of dividing it, it has lived for so long in the same pot.  This has to be done in spring.

Nerine undulata

My number two favourite is Amarine belladiva  which is a cross between nerine and amarylis. The flowers are much bigger than nerines. I have ‘Aphrodite’ which has delicately stripped flowers. It is supposed to be hardy so this year I am risking it outside. It is a good idea to mulch nerines and amarines because  the embryonic buds are vulnerable to frost.

Amarine belladiva ‘Aphrodite’

My number three is a little plant which I cosset in the greenhouse. It is actually an oxalis but forget the horrors of that creeping weed with red leaves; Oxalis corniculata that gets everywhere. This is an aristocratic little plant from South Africa which sits politely in its pot and causes no trouble.  And very pretty it is too. It blooms right through the autumn.

Oxalis massoniana

While we are in the greenhouse I might as well include the little paint brush plant haemanthus. It usually comes in red but this is Haemanthus albiflos. The chilli plant in the picture  is ‘Apache’, I always grow two or three plants of this, it makes a nice compact plant and fruits prolifically.

Haemanthus albiflos

I am not very keen on fuchsias. They look as if they are wearing the kind of dresses I loved when I was six, pink with frou frou skirts. My tastes have changed now. But I am very fond of a hardy climbing fuchsia called Lady Boothby. It is hardy down to -10. The flowers are a lovely shiny red and purple. I think a climbing fuchsia is rather unusual. I bought it at East Ruston Old Vicarage gardens, you can always be sure of finding something unusual there.

Fuchsia ‘Lady Boothbury’

Of course we have to include Michaelmas daisies in a list of October favourites. The naming of these plants has become a minefield. An aster is no longer a simple aster, or not always anyway.
My favourite is  – come on, let’s give it its proper name , Symphyiotrichum ‘Vasterival’. As you would expect from a plant from this fabulous garden, ‘Le Vasterival’ it is a real beauty. The late Princess Sturdza who gardened near Dieppe in France was an amazing gardener and the garden was one of my all time favourites. She was a very scary lady though. She used to conduct her guided tours clutching a pitchfork and she poked people with it if she felt they were getting too close to the edge of the borders.
S.‘Vasterival is a tall growing aster with masses of starry flowers on black stems. It is ethereally delicate and airy and although it spreads and languorously leans all over neighbouring plants I smile indulgently at it and allow it the sort of behaviour that lesser beauties wouldn’t get away with.

Symphyiotrichum ‘Vasterival’ with Anemone x hybrida ‘Andrea Atkinson’

Most people wouldn’t put Japanese Anemones in their top ten favourite lists, they are very invasive. I dug this white anemone up last year as I thought it was too near the front of the border. But this year she blooms on, serenely unconscious of the fact that she is not supposed to be there. But the flowers are such a pure white and the blooms last much longer than on other Japanese anemones. The name is Anemone x hyrida ‘Andrea Atkinson’. It is very similar to the more common ‘Honorine Jubert’ but I think it is better. It looks lovely with  S.’Vasterival’.

I have rather a lot of asters and I haven’t room to describe them all so I’ll just show you another favourite. It is Symphyiotrichum ‘Little Carlow’.  It is  much better behaved than ‘Vasterival’ and stays nice and compact without falling all over. It is a cordifolius hybrid . I have one by my garden gate and total strangers knock on the door to ask its name.

Symphyiotrichum ‘Little Carlow’

The centres of the flowers are yellow but they are always abuzz with bees and once the flowers are pollinated the centres turn pink. They look pretty with the dark pink flowers of Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Blackfield’.

Persicaria are very useful for late summer and autumn colour. Like the asters they have suffered from a name change, which is a shame as rather  childishly, I always used to enjoy Polygonun ‘Superbum’. As they are knotweeds most of them spread to make nice big clumps. Cathy at ramblinginthegarden has a good collection of these useful plants. She very kindly sent me Persicaria microcephala ‘Red dragon’. It has lovely  dark  red leaves with grey veins.

Persicaria microcephala ‘Red Dragon’

I’m not always sure of the names of the persicaria that I have begged or borrowed but I think the next one is Persicaria campanulata. It’s one I – er- borrowed. It’s alright, it spreads so fast nobody is going to miss a tiny little piece.

Persicaria campanulata

The pink and white Persicaria amplexicaulis look good growing with Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’

My next plant has suffered from a name change too. It used to be a chrysanthemum, but no longer. I think it is now called Arctanthemum arcticum. it is an arctic daisy which spreads into lovely clumps and has gleaming, snow white flowers. I love it.

Arctanthemum arcticum

Next month there will be more chrysanthemums as they are the stars of November.

I will finish with something a bit weird and wonderful.It is new to me this year. It is a succulent called Orostachys iwarenge, or Chinese Dunce Cap. It has rosettes from which grow little conical caps of pink flowers.

Orostachys iwarenge

So that’s my list of ten favourites for October. Here in Suffolk the weather has been unseasonably warm and the flowers seem to think that it is still summer. Other parts of the country have had gales and the tail end of Ophelia, but here we have just had incredibly warm days and a peculiar amber sky which then turned yellow and glowed with an eerie light. I hope that you have still got plenty to enjoy in the garden and that you will join me and show us which plants you are enjoying this month.

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53 Responses to Top Ten Blooms for October.

  1. mrsdaffodil says:

    A very informative post. I love, love, love the Nerines, though I’ve only had them in my own garden for the last two years. I’m delighted to hear that they can stay in the same pot for quite awhile and still flower profusely and beautifully. I do wish I could find the white ones here. 😦

  2. With all the new sunlight I have, I’m looking and reading about plants with a bit more excitement these days. Nerine bowdenii should also be hardy here, though just barely. Since the recommendation is to plant them in early spring, I will have to remember to order them in February. Love the succulent too. I haven’t seen it here, but it must be a real conversation starter!

    • Chloris says:

      I was appalled to read about your storn devastation Marian.It is heart breaking to lose trees. But it will be fun to be able to grow some sun loving plants. Nerines like to be baked by the sun.
      The succulent is fun, I am hoping that it will seed around.

  3. Last year I admired your Nerines so much I bought some N. bowdenii is what I could find. They were planted in March, some foliage appeared and disappeared, still waiting…Yours are spectacular, I hope to see one in my garden or five!
    Love Asters as well and the Persicaria always throws me, we have Knot Weed but I have not seen Persicaria. Succulents are amazing, that one is a keeper. We have a shrub here called Chinese Hat, orange hatlike flowers!

    • Chloris says:

      Be patient, nerines take a year or two to settle down and then get better and better. Remember to keep them watered. They need sun but they need water to initiate flower buds.
      Persicaria is a type of knotweed, these lovely flowers are relations of the dreaded Japanese Knotweed.
      I haven’t seen your shrubby Chinese Hats. Common names are so confusing. Give me Latin any day.

      • Thanks, some of them have sent up brown ended foliage! The soil is so gruesome here it might be too much for them. All the beds are irrigated so they were placed near the heads.I don’t know the latin for the Chinese Hats, bit too weird for me.

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    Nerines are so graceful and feminine and I do love that orange oxalis!

  5. Kris P says:

    Your beautiful Nerines have made their annual appearance! Has a year passed already? I’d uncovered a source for these bulbs locally and I thought I’d planted some but they haven’t appeared so perhaps I’m, suffering from a delusion. The Haemanthus made an appearance at my local botanic garden’s fall sale but, after lengthy deliberations, I passed on it because of its water needs. However, I do have a single Chinese Dunce Cap left from several I planted years ago!

    • Chloris says:

      Nerines should enjoy your baking sun but they do need to be watered.
      I have never seen the Chinese Dunce’s Cap before. Does it seed itself or did you have to take cuttings?

  6. pbmgarden says:

    Great collection as always. The nerines are wonderful. I quite like that unusual Oxalis too.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Susie. You have seen my nerines before, I roll them out every year as I am so besotted by them. The oxalis is new though, an impulse buy as I thought it was so pretty.

  7. Beautiful! I need to look into the nerines to see if they will grow here.

  8. tonytomeo says:

    Wow, all those flowers are uncommon here. I grew nerines back in about 1987 as a cut flower crop, but they are rare in home gardens. We have something called the naked lady or Belladona lily, which is similar, but bigger and a bit too garish for some. It would be nice if there were a white blooming variety. The pink is quite bright.

    • Chloris says:

      I have a Belladona lily too but it doesn’t flower every year unlike the nerines. For a larger flower I prefer amarines. Nerines make wonderful cut flowers.

  9. You have an amazing collection of Nerines! And loads of other blooming beauties right now, too! Persicaria are always such a joyful sight in a garden. 🙂

  10. Christina says:

    After seeing your lovely Nerines I planted some two years ago, they have produced good leaves this autumn but no flowers any ideas about what might be going wrong. I love all your treasures. I posted yesterday with a few favourites but with favourite October views of the garden too. I hope you don’t mind my stretching the idea a little.

    • Chloris says:

      Don’t worry Christina, nerines always take a year or two to settle down before they bloom. As long as you water them they will be fine. They produce the embryo flower buds a year before they bloom.
      Thank you for joining in with your October favourites and lovely views.

  11. Cathy says:

    I love to see your nerines, Chloris, especially as my poor examples look as if they are not goung to flower this year. Glad to hear that the Dragon is thriving – I recently saw some plants that one of my open garden helpers had bought to donate to a school project, and they have done so well in just a few months. Always interesting to see some of your ‘oddities’ too! You have already read mine, but the link is here anyway:

    • Chloris says:

      When did you plant your nerines? They take a while to settle down. Are they in a sunny position and have you planted them with their noses showing? Remember to mulch them because frost can destroy embryo buds.
      Thank you for the link, it is lovely to see all your beauties.

      • Cathy says:

        I have had them 3 or 4 years, starting them off in the ground but moving them to pots for the last couple of years so I could bring them in over winter – and yes, planted with noses showing

  12. Ellie says:

    Little Carlow is one of my favourites too – reliable and beautiful.
    Best wishes

  13. Beautiful as always! I’ve not seen nor heard of nerines, so I’m going to assume they are not fit for zone 4 areas. Are they tender? I would love to add some persicaria to my garden as well, but haven’t been able to find any at the local nurseries.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you, I have just published a post about the care of nerines as several people have asked me how to grow them. I have written about hardiness too.
      What a pity you can’t find persicaria, they are quite common here.

  14. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Some great choices for your top ten! Your tender nerines are certainly worth the extra care. So beautiful. The unusual oxalis was new to me and is stunning!

  15. croftgarden says:

    Your nerines are an inspiration. I finally got mine to flower this year and I’m tempted to try some of the other species/varieties. A. belladonna is more difficult to get to flower reliably and the bulbs are probably destined for the compost. Amarines, after 5 years still no flower, any tips?

  16. Wow! I was full up after the nerines. What an overload of loveliness. You have surpassed yourself this month. Instead of listing the ones that I like especially, I will say, “the lot”. 🙂

  17. Chloris says:

    Thank you Gill, October blooming flowers are extra special, specially as we know there will be lean pickings in November.

  18. bittster says:

    You have a fantastic assortment going into autumn, I always love seeing your nerines.
    I will join you in wondering how the little dunce caps overwinter. Mine are new this year as well and I thought they would put a little more effort into spreading out and growing new rosettes but instead they’re all putting their hats on.

    • Chloris says:

      I remember seeing your Dunce Caps and thinking what a coincidence because it was the week after I bought mine. And mine is doing just the same thing. I can’t see any part of it to take cuttings from. I hope it will prove hardy.
      By the way, Galanthus reginae-olgae is blooming and has been for some time. Do you have it?

      • bittster says:

        Maybe it’s time to start looking for seeds on the duncecap, although I can’t imagine being able to grow anything from the dust I’ve found so far. My fingers are crossed.
        I haven’t yet braved Reginae-olgae. I’m afraid the foliage would be decimated during the winter and I killed the tiny experimental bulb which was destined for under lights. Yours looks very nice, excellent to already have two flowers!

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  20. snowbird says:

    You have turned me into a Nerine fan,the ones you sent me increase every year. You do have some beauties.You do always have something wonderful in bloom throughout the year!xxx

  21. A wonderful selection again and I am amazed by your collection of nerine. A couple of years ago I only knew about bulk standard N. bowdenii. Last year I bought Ella K and Isobel, but now I am lusting after more! Especially the ones with the stripes down the center of the petal. The Chinese Dunce Cap is lovely. (It looks a bit like a fir tree. )
    Here are my favourites for October:

    • Chloris says:

      Have you come across Nerine Stephanie? It is a lovely pale pink and quite hardy.
      Thank you for joining in and showing your fabulous October favourites Allison.

  22. Anna says:

    Oh you have made me decide that I really must plant a nerine or two Chloris. I’m not even sure when I should be ordering or planting bulbs but will do some research later today 🙂 Any colour in October is worth its wait in gold. Aster ‘Little Carlow’ is a favourite here too and as you say is much loved by the bees. Sadly my plants at the allotment perished but I have it in the garden as well.

  23. smallsunnygarden says:

    I love your asters – pardon me, symphiotrichons! 😉 I believe there is a desert-adapted species that would grow here, but I haven’t located it yet… Yours seem to bring a good deal of grace as well as colour to the garden. And your Nerines… lovely!!
    I did finally, belatedly, post some favorite flowers for the month:

  24. ‘Little Carlow’ is marvelous. Love the combination of blue asters with Japanese anemones.

  25. Chloris says:

    Thank you Jason. Yes, Little Carlow is a beauty and never flops.

  26. Pingback: Top Ten for October. |

  27. Brian Skeys says:

    Mr John is a handsome fellow. East Ruston features in one of my garden presentations. I have often wondered how they managed to keep the fuchsias, in the pots, out side the greenhouse so tall. Now I know, a climbing fuchsia. I feel a visit to Old Court Nursery in Colwall, to find S.’Vasterival’, she sounds a beauty with the dark stems.
    Here is my link for October Chloris:

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  29. Annette says:

    Hi Liz, I’m late leaving my comment, sorry. What a fab selection! You know I didn’t have any flowers on my Nerine this year. Wonder if they’re getting too much shade from the Tetrapanax? I planted Aster Vasterival last year, such a beauty. Added Little Carlow this autumn and hope it’ll do as well. As usual I meet some new plants here. Orostachys looks intriguing. Like your Fuchsia too. Got mine now for such a long time. They’re so easy and modest. Cold and damp-ish here, so maybe there’s some rain on the way. Have a nice weekend 🙂

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