Top Ten October Blooms.

Towards the end of each month I like to post about the flowers which are currently giving me the most pleasure. And I always love it when bloggers join in and share their favourites. I choose ten but even if you only share one special flower it would be lovely.

If you love your garden it is great to have special flowers to look forward to and to cheer you each month no matter the weather.  In October I always look forward to nerines and I love them so much I would like to have a special greenhouse dedicated to them. Of course the bowdenii hybrids bloom outside quite happily but those with sarniensis in their veins need frost protection. These are the ones with the brightest, most  shimmering colours. The first to bloom for me is the bright red, tender  Nerine sarniensis. My other tender ones are still in bud, so they will be amongst my November favourites. These bulbs are summer dormant so need to be kept reasonably dry or they will rot. Watering is increased once the flower spike appears and carried on until the leaves die down.

Nerine sarniensis

Nerines have a long autumn season because different varieties  bloom at different times. Nerine bowdenii starts blooming outside in early October. If it has a sunny position without any competition it soon clumps up.

Nerine bowdenii

Nerine bowdenii ‘Stefani’ is so delicate looking with its shell pink flowers but it is hardy too. Here it is in my sundial bed.

Nerine bowdenii ‘Stefanie’

Equally gorgeous is the hardy Nerine bowdenii ‘Isobel’ which has really dark pink flowers. I keep it in the greenhouse because I love the contrast of dark and pale pink and white when the nerines are all blooming together.

Nerine bowdenii ‘Isabel’

I love this striped one which doesn’t seem to have a name.

Nerine Striped Form’

My favourite is Nerine undulata, it is the most delicate of all. A friend who is a keen plants person gave it to me more than twenty years ago. It is said to be hardy and I grew it outside for several years. But I have had it in a pot for years now and each year I get more blooms, this year there are 43 and they are like curly spiders.

Nerine undulata

Nerines can be grown from seed and then you can get your own gorgeous hybrids. I should have lots by now if I hadn’t been so careless and let the seeds dry out. This happens easily as you sow them on the surface of the compost. I have this one in bloom which I sowed  about 4 years ago. It is a lovely soft colour, a bit like ‘Stefanie’ but prettier I think, but  then I would, as it is my baby.

This is last year’s seedling from a white nerine, ‘Ella K’ . I can’t wait to see what colour the flower will be.

Nerine one year old seedling.

Another October favourite is blooming in the greenhouse right now, or it was until today when I brought the pot into the house to show off when friends come to dinner. Bessera elegans is a very easy to grow, you plant the bulbs in pots in April. The flowers are exquisite,  coral,  jewel- like drops .

Bessera elegans

The October garden is brought to life by colourful asters. I love all daisy flowers and these starry symphyotrichums, as we have to call them now are an absolute joy, even if they do have to put up with a silly new name. A lot of people are put off them because of mildew but if you avoid nova-belgii hybrids this doesn’t seem to be a problem.  Symphyotrichum novae-angliae hybrids are the ones to look out for. Here are a few favourites.

Chrysanthemums are next month’s treat and although I have several in bloom now, I am not going to croon over them until November when floral treats become scarcer. But one Chrysanthemum has been in bloom for a while and so has to be included in the October blooms because its snowy white flowers light up the October border. It is Arctanthemum articum. It used to be a Chrysanthemum but we are not allowed to call it that now. Whatever its name, it is well worth looking out for as it is a beauty.

Arctanthemum articum

October is Schizostylis time, except we have to call them Hesperantha now, but that’s OK, it’s easier to spell. I find them a bit tricky because Suffolk is very dry, specially this year and they need lots of water to do well.

Hesperantha coccinea ‘Sunrise’

I love persicarias and have quite a few different ones, although probably not as many as my Persicaria-enthusiast friend, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. 

But one I am enjoying at the moment is a towering annual. It is Persicaria orientalis and right now it is much taller than me at about 6 foot tall. Its common name is ‘Kiss me Over the Garden Gate’. It is easy from seed but slugs adore it and my first bunch of seedlings was munched clean to the soil. Fortunately three more germinated later and these are now looking wonderful. Next year I would like loads of these and maybe for fun I will have some by the garden gate.

Persicaria orientalis

Another tall growing annual is Leonitis leonurus ‘Staircase’ which grows taller and better as the summer goes on. It looks wonderful in my tropical garden. I have taken some cuttings to see if I can keep it going after the frosts.

Leonitis leonurus ‘Staircase’

Other plants looking better and better as the season goes on are the abutilons which used to live in pots. Given the freedom of the soil they have gone mad and I really don’t have anywhere to accomodate them now that they have become so monstrous. I don’t think they will be hardy. They have such pretty bell-shaped veined flowers.

Abutilon ‘Nabob’

Abutilon ‘Nabob’

Abutilon pictum ‘Thompsonii’

Abutilon pictum ‘Thompsonii’

I also have lovely yellow daisy flowers in the tropical bed which are pot plants here but easy from cuttings. They are hardy in Cornwall but probably not here. One is the simple daisy flower of Euryops pectinatus, the other is Euryops ‘Double Sunshine’. Both of them fell into my hands in a rather unorthodox fashion I’m afraid.

Euryops pectinatus

Euryops ‘Sunshine Double’

Oh dear, here I am at number ten and it is difficult to choose a favourite amongst the rest of the October beauties. I think I will go with a little knapweed type plant which has a quiet charm and is a joy because it blooms so late in the year and insects love it. It is called Serratula seoanei. I can never remember how to spell it as it has rather too many vowels. It looks lovely in my Mediterranean garden.

Serratula seoanei

So that’s my ten, please join me and write about your October favourites. In the meantime, here are a few that I didn’t include in my list even thought they are all beauties.


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26 Responses to Top Ten October Blooms.

  1. Gosh, that’s a lot of plants still blooming for you–marvelous! Your Nerine collection is lovely. Nerines remind me of Lycoris–their blooms are nearly identical, although the foliage is different and they bloom at different times. Gorgeous!

  2. Kris P says:

    I always envy those Nerines. I was so excited when I found ‘Stefani” at last year’s fall plant sale at The Huntington Gardens but no sooner had I planted it than someone or something inexplicably cut or chewed off its foliage – in any case, I haven’t seen any sign of it this year. Your aster collection is impressive, as is that beautiful Bessera, which I’ve never heard of.

    With my dahlias and zinnias now tucked away I don’t have much to offer in terms of flowers except for my Senna and Barleria so I’ll have to take a pass on joining in with a top 10 list of my own again this month.

    • Chloris says:

      Sorry to here that you had a disappointment with your nerine. If only you lived nearer I could give you some bulbs. Bessera elegans is gorgeous but it has to live in a pot here. I wonder whether it would live outside with you.

  3. tonytomeo says:

    Nerines were grown as cut flower where I worked for the summer of 1986. We grew only a few cultivars. They were expensive because they took up so much space and bloomed only once, yet florists bought them. Leonotis leonurus was also grown on the same farm, but it was a horrible disappointment. It grew so big that the flowers were up in the rafters of the greenhouses. It was a lot of work to harvest them from up there. Afterward, all that biomass needed to be disposed of. They were not grown again.

    • Chloris says:

      Nerines make good cut flowers, on the few occasions when I could bring myself to cut them, I was surprised at how long lasting they are.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Yes, they last a very long time, and longer than other related flowers. Back when we grew them, they were consistent with the style of the mid 1980s. I prefer some of the simpler colors that we did not grow. If they had been available back then, they were not so popular at the time.

  4. Tina says:

    Your garden is enjoying a beautiful bounty–thanks for sharing it with us.

  5. Flighty says:

    Lovely post and pictures. xx

  6. So many blooms and they are all beautiful.

  7. pbmgarden says:

    Fascinating collection of flowers. Love seeing all your Nerines! Such charming flowers. The Abutilon ‘Nabob’ is especially nice too.

  8. I bought some N. umbellata because of you, I was so impressed last year. They haven’t flowered yet, but to be honest they could have had better treatment. Next year perhaps. Loving them all, especially that little serrutula, not heard of that one before. I think I had better write it down!

  9. I have only ever seen those Nerines on your blog. You have a great selection of asters, S. novae-angliae has so much genetic variation that it has given rise to many gorgeous varieties. Though I am partial to the straight species, where you can sometimes see blue, purple, and pink flowers on the same plant. Finally, that Clerodendron is truly stunning!

    • Chloris says:

      The asters bring so much colour to the October garden, I wouldn’t be without them. My favourite is Le Vasterival as it spreads into large clumps and the flowers are exquisite.
      To be honest, the blue clerodendron is a berry not a flower, the flowers are pretty too though and fragrant.

  10. Annette says:

    Hi Liz, hope you and the pianist are well. I’ve got some catching up to do after my summer hibernation and what a joy to see your October flowers. My Nerine haven’t flowered at all and I think it’s become too shady where they are so must move them. My Asters were delightful like yours though and funnily some new ones came up which I never planted so I’m looking forward to seeing them develop. We have lots of plants in common, that’s for sure. It’ll be milder from today on so I’ll enjoy my plants for another while. It’s been a difficult summer, so happy to see things turning green again! Happy days xx

  11. Chloris says:

    Hello Annette, yes, we are both very well thank you. Yes, we do enjoy many of the same flowers. I have noticed that if you grow quite a few different asters you get new ones appearing in different shades. The weather is getting colder here now, I dislike November, it is sad to say goodbye to so many beauties for another year. The summer has been hard for the garden but I love the sun. Damp, dark days and biting winds take a bit of getting used to.

  12. snowbird says:

    I appoint you Head Gardener of the internet! I’m amazed, yet again how you have blooms throughout the entire year! Just stunning! Clerodendron trichotomum is PERFECT for Halloween! xxx

  13. Cathy says:

    Such beautiful plants Chloris. I love seeing your Nerines each year, and you have a fabulous array of Asters too. How funny, the slugs have never munched on my Persicaria (are they still called Persicaria in the UK? We have to call them Polygonum or Bistorta here, or perhaps you know if there is a difference?)

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cathy. Polygonum bistorta is now correctly known as Persicaria bistorta. Unfortunately we now have Persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’ instead of the much more fun Polygonum bistorta ‘Superbum’.

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