Plants to grow for autumn colour

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Dahlia Waltzing Matilda

The air has a cold nip now and the garden is winding down but she’s going out with a bang. There are still vibrant oranges, velvety reds and deep burgundy plants going strong to rival the summer borders.

Since buying a 60’s house I’ve embraced all things retro – and it’s even creeping into the garden. For a long time Dahlias have been out of fashion, partly because they’re seen as a bit high maintenance. It may just be worth a little extra effort though as they put on their gaudy show long after most flowers have bowed out.


Dahlia New Baby

I have a sunny bank that’s hard as nails when dry and an unworkable, gluey clay that’s a nightmare when wet, so with bags of grit and compost I thought I’d give one small area a trial, filling it with late summer and autumn flowering plants.

I love the crazy colour clashes and varied shapes of Dahlias but they do need digging up again after flowering. It’s the main reason I’d not grown them before – but it will give the soil a good work over and be a second chance to add to improve it.


Dahlia Blue Bayou

My Dahlias came from the Sarah Raven catalogue as corms and I’ve been really pleased with them (except one white failure, ironically in another area with great soil. The instructions said to plant 12 inches deep and as I suspected it was too deep.) Waltzing Matilda was definitely the most vigorous of the ones I chose. Sticking with the oranges and apricots I also opted for the ball flowered New Baby and the paler Happy Single Date. To clash and just because I couldn’t resist the fussy frills, I also chose a new variety! the violet flowered Blue Bayou. They all did pretty well considering the soil.


Kniphoffia Mango


Another of my latest plant crushes is the red hot poker, I planted several and their spikes of colour gave texture and colour as well as being loved by Great Tits. The last of them to flower (and still throwing up smaller shoots) is Kniphoffia Mango, which perfectly matches the mango coloured Crocosmia.

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Crocosmia Voyager


Crocosmia Emily McKenzie




Helenium Moerheim Beauty

Finally at the front of the border I added a couple of Rudbeckias with their warm burnt marmalade colours as recommended by Monty on Gardener’s World. These perfectly picked up from my Heleniums (Moerheim Beauty) which still have a few flowers left to come. i’m keeping my fingers crossed now that the frosts don’t arrive just yet.

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