Gardening is about looking to the future. So while we should enjoy all that spring offers, it is just as important to start considering the autumn, says Joanna Cruddas.

Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums
Image via Martin Hughes-Jones

These flowers fill a border with colour just as it’s beginning to look tired. 

If you like big showy flowers, go for the single heads. I prefer the more delicate spray cultivars.

If you like a pink autumn, try ‘Emperor of China’ which turns from a rich burgundy bud to rose pink flower in October and November. If you feel the season needs a warmer colour, try ‘Payton Blaze Red’ or ‘Bruno Bronze’.  

I already have one 3-year-old plant that has grown into a vast clump. It’s time to dig it up and split in two. It should soon spread again.

 

 

Asters

These plants are long flowering from mid-summer.

Popular Aster ‘Monch’ is easy to grow and offers a profusion of lavender-blue and yellow-centred flowers. They are full of pollen and nectar for insects.

 

 

Nerines

nerines

Nerines are bulbous. They like to be planted with their neck just above the surface of the ground and are happiest in a dense clump.

Placed in a sunny position where they can bake through the summer, they should give you an exotic, yet delicate show from late September to November.

Nerine ‘bowdenii’ is probably the most popular and my favourite.

 

 

Agapanthus

Agapanthus have fleshy, rhizomatous rootstocks. These magnificent plants like to have their crowns below soil, and are happy when quite compacted.

They thrive in full sun and are suitable for container growing. Soil should be fertile, well-drained but moisture retentive.

A large pot, closely planted with agapanthus on a patio or outside a front door, should give you a magnificent show of blue or white flowers.

A word of warning: Too much shade and they will be all leaf and no flower.

 

 

Crocus

crocus

These autumn-flowering plants pop up just as most flowers are dying down.

Order a few bulbs now for delivery and planting out later in the summer in a sunny position. They will quickly increase to a large colony.

 

 

Cyclamen

Cyclamen ‘hederifolium’ is hardy and will brighten autumn days with exquisite pink or white flowers just a few inches above the ground.

They are woodland plants and like a dry, partially shady spot. Surround them with a thick layer of leaf mould. They self-seed easily and in a couple of years, you should have drifts of colourful ground cover.

Resist the temptation to plant them with spring flowering Cyclamen ‘coum’. The autumn flowering variety is more robust and will dominate the space.

 

 

Alstroemeria

alstroemeria

‘Indian Summer’ will flower from June through to November. Commonly known as Peruvian Lily, this is a valuable cutting flower for the autumn.

Three or four stems in a vase are all you need as each stem has a spray of flowers. Plug plants are currently available for planting out next month.

Take action now to ensure your autumn is as colourful as spring and summer!

 

Joanna Cruddas lives in London and gardens at her plot in Fulham Palace Meadows Allotments, on her balcony, and in her window boxes. She is the author of The Three-Year Allotment Notebook with photographs by Edwina Sassoon.

 

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