Greenbelt

Autumn Flowers

SUMMER is almost over, autumn is fast approaching and in the garden the sun’s rays are now low enough to illuminate every dust mote and puff of thistledown floating in the air.

Now is the time to enjoy some of the most beautiful effects of the year, as dahlias blaze with hot and vivid colours and the morning dew transforms even the humble spider’s web into something rare and precious.

If you’ve planted with this season in mind then you’ll be enjoying a firework display of rudbeckia and helianthus while the tall stems of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ will be running through your borders like leaping tongues of fire.

As some plants begin their decline, others are only now getting up a head of steam. This is great because late season flowers are essential if you are going to keep the show going for as long as possible.

But which plants will perform best as the days start to shorten and night time temperatures begin to fall?

Beryl McNaughton of Macplants, Scotland’s leading grower of perennials, has been choosing her favourite performers for a drama-filled autumn.

Here’s her pick of the plants.

1. Agapanthus 'Royal Blue'

'Royal Blue' is ahardy, dark blue form of agapanthus, with large heads on strong stems. Give it a sunny position with good fertile soil and plenty of water in the summer and it will flower from July until September. It also makes a great container plant for the patio. (H90cm)

2. Geranium 'Rozanne'

Geranium 'Rozanne' is an easy plantfor any garden and most situations. It has a very long flowering period and will carry on until the firstfrosts. It was votedRHS Plant of the Centenary at theChelsea Flower Show in 2013. The violet-blue flowers have a white centre and purple veining and while the plant has a spreading habit it never becomes invasive. (H40cm)

3. Euphorbia schillingii

Wonderful lime green flowers on self-supporting stems make this an excellent addition to the garden. It is unusual amongst euphorbias for its late-flowering period, allowing it to combine well with summer flowering perennials and it also has good autumn colour. It does well on clay. (H100cm)

4. Penstemon 'Garnet'

The toughest of all perennial penstemons, 'Garnet' has along flowering period. It is semi-evergreen so the foliage may persist in mild winters. The tubular, wine red flowers are offset by lance-shaped leaves. (H75cm)

5. Rudbeckia fulgida 'Early Bird Gold'

Recently introduced ‘Early Bird Gold’ is an improvement on the popular R ‘Goldsturm. Uniquely for a rudbeckia it starts flowering early and keeps going over a much longer period than other varieties. The flowers are large, golden-yellow daisies with black centres. (H60cm)

Agnes Stevenson