Autumn colour is here! Summer 2022 was a challenging time in the garden. The lack of rain throughout the spring has continued into the summer and created very dry conditions with many plants and lawns suffering as a result. We have been lucky that Wessex Water is one of the few water companies in the south not to have issued a hosepipe ban. It is important to keep on watering newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials well into the autumn until the soils wet-up again. Catching any rainwater we do get in waterbutts or recycling any water from showers or washing up, where possible, is a good idea.
On the nursery, we use a highly-efficient drip irrigation that delivers the water directly to the pot where the plant needs it. We have also installed a weather station to give us readings that allow us to increase water when needed or, more importantly, decrease water use on a cloudy day.
A drought affected garden may need a fresh dose of colour in the autumn. We have winter-flowering pansies (that actually flower all the way to spring) as well as colourful, autumn-flowering perennials & shrubs, plus trees with beautiful autumn leaf colour. Autumn is a great time to plant, especially trees and hedging as the soil is still warm and allows some root growth before winter.
It may feel like summer is drawing to a close with cooler days and some (much-needed) rainfall, but the garden party is not yet over. In fact, autumn can be one of the most colourful times of the year with an abundance of plants that are at their best right now.
Herbaceous perennials like Crocosmia ‘Emily McKenzie’ and ‘George Davison’ give off intense hot oranges and yellows, as do Helenium ’Short n’ Sassy’ and Lobelia ‘Starship’. Japanese anemones ‘Robustissima’ and ’Queen Charlotte’ and Gaura ‘Alba’ offer gentler pink and purple flowers that seemingly float in the air. Echinacea Sunseekers ‘Coral’ and Schizostylis ‘Rosea’ offer something a bit exotic with those strikingly metallic magenta hues.
And it’s not just flowers. The leaves of climbers like Virginia creepers (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) will be making walls and fences gleam bright red as the temperature falls.
Trees like the native Mountain Ash are now covered with bright reddish-orange berries that shine out in the sun. Our Acers will soon be displaying their farewell autumnal performance with colours ranging from golden yellow through blood red and into deep luxurious purples.
All you need is a warm drink and the garden party can go on.