I showed my top September blooms in a recent post, The Exotic Garden. But September is generous with an abundance of lovely flowers so I have plenty more giving me pleasure in other parts of the garden.
It is difficult to keep the whole garden looking perfect all year round without a large staff and loads of back up plants which I don’t have. My favourite part of the garden in June underwhelms me from the second half of July into August. But in September there is another wave of colour.
Anemone japonica is a mainstay of the September garden although it can be invasive. This white one, ‘Andrea Atkinson’ is very similar to the popular ‘Honorine Jobert’, although I was told that it is superior, I cannot see any difference. I think it looks lovely with the airy heads of the asters which are spreading through this bed. I decided that I would prefer this anemone in another part of the garden where it could romp away happily without getting in the way of more choice plants. Although I thought I had dug it all up, as you can see this is not a plant which submits to being evicted. But it is pretty and flowers for ages. I have several anemones in different parts of the garden. I love this next one although I can’t remember its name. It is more compact than many of them.
Another long flowering elegant flower is the ugly-nosed Lobelia or Lobelia uliginosa.
It is not ugly at all and it has beautiful azure flowers. I have been told before that ‘Ugly Nose’ is not the correct name and of course I know it’s not, but it is a handy way of remembering the real name. Uliginous means damp-loving but mine thrives in part of the garden which is not damp at all. It is also not supposed to be reliably hardy but I have had this for several years.
Next to my ugly-nosed lobelia I have the gorgeous China rose, Rosa chinensis ‘Bengal Beauty’ which has single flowers like flights of red butterflies. Behind the rose are the dark leaves of Cotinus coggyria.
My other China rose, Rosa ‘Mutabilis’ is blooming away happily and this is one of the reason I love these roses, they are the first to bloom and the last to stop blooming.
Pretty little ivy-leaved Cyclamen hederifolium starts blooming in August and is a star right through September. I give mine bonemeal and a good soaking in August specially after a dry summer like this last one. I have colonies all round the garden and each one is different. These start blooming ahead of the leaves.
There are white ones.
And silver- leaved ones.
In the greenhouse I have some tender cyclamen which bloom at different times of the year. The delicate flowers of Cyclamen cilicium are so pretty. Their petals are larger and more pointed than those of Cyclamen hederifolium. This Cyclamen comes from Turkey so I won’t risk it outside.
A late-flowering clematis which I love in September is Clematis rhedriana which has pale primrose bell-shaped flowers and has a delicious, fruity scent of cowslips. I used to grow this with Vitis coignetiae which has large bright red leaves in autumn and they looked beautiful together. Here I have it on the trellis surrounding my secret garden.
I also enjoy a shrub with fragrant flowers in September. It is a member of the honeysuckle family called Heptacodium miconioides. I think this shrub is better known in America where it is called ‘Seven Son’ or something like that. ‘Hepta’ means seven. It didn’t appear in the UK until the 1980’s and I believe the first plant was grown at Powis Castle. Apparently when this shrub is mature it has pleasantly peeling bark. I love it for the scent and for the butterflies who enjoy it so much. When the flowers finish, it has another trick up its sleeve. Its calyxes turn pink. This shrub is supposed to enjoy moist acid soil, neither of which it gets here. It looked a little unhappy with droopy leaves in the summer but is fine now.
I love echinaceas and sadly I have found that so many of the gorgeous new hybrids don’t survive the winter so they have to be treated as expensive annuals. Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers believes that this is because they don’t like winter wet, it cause them to rot. Anyway, good old Echinacea purpurea is very reliable and seeds around too. I love any sort of daisy and echinacea is particularly pleasing with its dark central cones. I have two different ones, Echinacea purpurea ‘Rubinstern’ and Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’. ‘Magnus’ seems to be a paler colour and has downward pointing petals but this could be because it is in a drier part of the garden. I grow it with Eupatorium purpureum which has fluffy pinky-purple flowers and Vernonia.
I have several clumps of violet coloured Liriope muscari. It has grassy evergreen leaves and I wish I had more of it so that I could create ribbons of it growing through other September flowering flowers.
Of course September is the month for colchicums. In the spring I find their oversized leaves rather a nuisance but then I welcome my ‘Naked Ladies’ at this time of the year when they are blooming without those elephant leaves. Colchicum autumnale is the most common and I particularly like this in its white form.
Colchicum speciosum has larger more showy flowers. I particularly like Colchicum speciosum ‘Atrorubens’ with its lovely purple stems.
I’ll finish with a couple of sedums. These start blooming in August but there are some lovely September bloomers. I grow them in my Mediterranean garden.
It may be the end of summer but the weather is still really warm and there are still plenty of blooms to enjoy. The French poet, Charles Baudelaire took rather a jaundiced view of this time of the year in several rather gloomy poems about autumn.
‘Bientôt nous plongerons dans les froides ténèbres;
Adieu, vive clarté de nos étés trop courts!’
‘Soon we will plunge into the cold darkness;
Farewell, brief light of our too short summers.’
But Baudelaire didn’t garden and he suffered from tertiary syphilis so perhaps he had an excuse to be a tad gloomy. But I think September is a glorious month; we still have plenty of blooms and next month we will have the gardening year’s glorious finale to look forward to. Do come back and see next month’s Top Ten Blooms. In the meantime I would love it if you would share your September favourites. Before I go, here are some more of my September delights.