Favourite autumn plantings

The Glasshouse Borders are still filled with colour and texture as we head into autumn, and these are some of the plants that are looking great right now.

Every time I walk up the Glasshouse Borders there is always something totally new and exciting that catches my eye – at the moment it is the Hibiscus moscheutos which started blooming at the beginning of September. This hardy hibiscus has enormous flowers which vary in colour from white to crimson and really is a sight to behold.

Heavenly heleniums

Heleniums in flowerVisitors have commented in the past few weeks on Helenium ‘Riverton Beauty’. I was most delighted when it burst into full bloom at the end of August, creating a sea of yellow right up the hill. I suspected that dry conditions in early and midsummer had written off the chance of a good display of flowers this year – however they most certainly proved me wrong, clearly benefiting from the wetter weather of August and September. I’m hoping they will continue for at least another week or so, the dead heads remaining throughout the autumn and winter.

Perovskia flowersSpires of beauty

Scent is of major importance to me as a gardener and I always take great pleasure in brushing past the flowers of Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Little Spire’. This sub-shrub is more compact than its well-known relative P. ‘Blue Spire’, but does not compromise on its wonderful fragrance.

The leaves have a wonderful sage-like scent and the violet-blue flowers create a superb show. Having survived the summer heat wave we can see that it is relatively drought tolerant and so would make an ideal addition to a gravel garden in a sunny position. It is easily propagated from semi-ripe cuttings so I’m hoping to add more next year.

Gorgeous grasses

How could I forget grasses? Pennisetum macrourum has been flowering in profusion for a good couple of months. Its white flowers borne on arching stems hang over the borders and provide the perfect foil for a wide range of plants, yet it is equally effective as a free-standing specimen - and also perfect for winter structure.

Calamagrostis imageHowever my favourite grass of this year has to be Calamagrostis brachytricha. Its pyramid-shaped flowerheads are best seen first thing in the morning, when their slight tinge of purple is most noticeable. Strong and vigorous while still being well-behaved, I simply cannot fault it. Here it looks great with Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Red Head’.

I hope this has inspired you to take a wander up the Glasshouse Borders on your next visit to Wisley. I look forward to hearing what catches your eye!

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