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.
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 ‘Stefani’ is so delicate looking with its shell pink flowers but it is hardy too. Here it is in my sundial bed.
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.
I love this striped one which doesn’t seem to have a name.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.