Tales from the Walled Garden: Have you noticed? – September 2018

There is a change in the air.

The mornings’ are definitely fresher.

And the nights are most definitely drawing in.

Autumn is on its way.

And as we approach the last few weeks of being open to the public we need to ensure that there is still plenty of interest in the garden.  So here is my Top 10 list of Late Season Interest Plants.

In at number 10 are Rudbeckia. Those Black Eye Susans add a pop of colour from August until October.

At number 9 we have Helenium. Like Rudbeckia there are plenty of varieties to choose from, all in hot colours. As the heat rises I love to turn up the colours.

Number 8 is a long time favourite Echinacea. I adore these beautiful coneflowers as do bees and butterflies and they work fantastically with the aforementioned beauties and ornamental grasses creating a stunning prairie look.

Come in Number 7, Sedums! The knack to stopping these chaps from collapsing under their own weight is to give them the Chelsea Chop. So at the end of May cut the stems back by a third, they will flower a little later but will be less top heavy and therefore maintain there form. You can leave their flower heads on over the winter and cut them back in early spring to give some winter interest.

The Number 6 spot goes to Geraniums. Can a garden be without geraniums? They just don’t stop from early summer through to September. After the first flush of flowers we cut them back hard and they pop up again in a matter of a couple of weeks this time in nice neat mounds.

In at Number 5 are Phlox. These plants give you plenty of bang for your buck. They are on our Chelsea Chop Hit List too but instead of cutting the whole plant back we might just cut half the plant back so extending the flowering season. With regular deadheading they look fabulous for a long time, check out the Mercury Bed.

At Number 4 is our star of the Peacock Garden, Anenome Wild Swan. This was the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year 2011 and rightly so. In the Peacock Garden it is planted en mass in our Box hedged borders, the flowers are white but the reverse of the petals are blue and they flower until November!

Now to the Top 3!  And in at Number 3 is Verbena bonariensis.  This chap is tall and unassuming on its own but in a mixed border its slim frame gives it versatility, and a transparent nature, often hovering above the show. He will work well anywhere in the border, front or back. And the butterflies love it!

Heading to the top spot at Number 2 we have Salvias. Flowering from June to October and coming in a variety of colours and sizes there must be a Salvia for everyone out there. We have a number of varieties here at Houghton Lodge and they never fail to impress.

And the Number 1 position goes to…(drum roll) the Dahlia. Oh my goodness I love Dahlias! Their tubers are less than inspiring but what secrets they hold!  From July to the first frosts they are spectacular! The variety of flowers is incredible from blooms to as big as your face to perfect pompoms.  And the colours are divine. They make great cut flowers for the house and are so generous with their flowerheads.

Here at Houghton Lodge we tend to leave them in the ground with a good blanket of straw over them to get them through the winter. But for those living further north lifting them and over wintering them by wrapping them in newspaper and leaving them in a cool dry place is the order of the day.  If that sounds like too much of a faff I promise you they are worth it.

Some say they are old fashioned but I don’t think there is anything wrong with abit of old fashioned glamour. Honestly, what’s not to like? They definitely top my Top 10!

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