Surprise flowers welcome in October

autumn auricula

Autumn Auriculas Back In Flower

England may have spent the 1st October on the beach enjoying the record breaking Mediterranean temperatures, but here in Highlands of Scotland there was drizzle, rain and more rain. I had to give up gardening mid-afternoon after the ground got so slippery, I went down the slope on my backside while carrying two buckets of dirt and got a thorough coating in cold mud.

Fortunately, one the skills gardening on an extreme slope has taught me is how to fall over well!

Despite the washout today, the temperatures have been reasonable, with no frost yet.  The past week was surprisingly warm and sunny given the miserable summer we’ve had.  The plants seem to agree – in fact I fear some have them got confused and think it is Spring already.

Surprise October flowers

The Auriculas I bought from Arbriachian Nursery back in May are back in flower and looking absolutely lovely.  My primulas, too, are flowering as well as they did in Spring.  I’m not sure what I should do with the Auricula next. I rather expected they’d be going dormant now, rather than coming back to life – if anyone knows whether I should feed them or doing anything to them after flowering, I’d appreciate the tips!

anenome wild swan

Anenome Wild Swan going strong

Also back in flower is the Anenome Wild Swan which I bought at Gardening Scotland in June.  This has really bulked up and is flowering better now than it was when I bought it.  I collected seed from this and my white anenomes earlier in the year – and loads have germinated – so hopefully I’ll get something interesting in about three years time!  I also need to investigate how to propagate it by division or cuttings, as it is so lovely.

Other surprising successes right now are the Godetia.  I originally sowed them March/April, but the seedlings all got eaten as I was hardening them off.  So I made a second sowing in later May and these are in full bloom now.  The bold pinks really give the garden a vibrancy more fitting to late summer and despite the drizzle, they make the pots look really cheerful.

Fuschia Thalia

Fuschia Thalia

The Fuschia Thalias that I used in pots barely flowered at all during summer, despite the strong cuttings having a healthy start and getting away nicely in late spring.  The cold weather, rain and lack of sun really held them back.  But they’ve finally come into flower.  So hopefully the frost will stay away so they can get a chance to shine, as they are really attractive and healthy looking plants.  I must also strike a few more cuttings before it is too late as they won’t overwinter outside.

These late treats are combining nicely with the autumn planting to keep both the front and back gardens looking bright.  The blueberries, viburnum, geraniums and acers are providing rich autumn foliage colours.  While the asters, colchium, late lillies, sweet peas, clematis and sweet williams are providing softly contrasting blues, whites, lilacs, pinks and whites.  If the frosts and winds stay at bay for a few more weeks, there will be plenty of colour into late autumn.

Some other highlights from the autumn garden

Gardening Scotland Heaven

What a finish to three weeks of near-non stop travelling – a sunbaked visit to Gardening Scotland for some much needed plant therapy.

It really was a fabulous show. I’ve only been to Chelsea once, but I really do prefer Gardening Scotland.  It has a terrific floral hall, lots of the exhibitors go to Chelsea too, but its scale and focus is more human and far more relevant to us mere mortals.  Plus it is covered by the best gardening programme on TV – Beechgrove Garden.  I attended a couple of really useful Q&A sessions in the Beechgrove Theatre tent, got to ask a question, and was reminded how knowledgable, down to earth and entertaining the Beechgrove bridage and experts from Edinburgh and St Andrews Botanic Garden are.

It was a baking hot day (when I returned to my car at 4pm, the temperature in Edinburgh was 28 degrees) and so the floral hall was not only a feast of flowers, but extremely heady with scent too.  I wanted to channel my inner bee and curl up among the lillies.

gardening scotland floral hall

Impressive floral hall displays

Naturally there was a retail component to the visit, but I was pretty restrained and only spent the cash I had set aside.  I even tried to set myself a wishlist in advance so as not to get tempted by pretty flowery things I don’t need.

The plant I was most hoping to buy was a new white anenome.

Beautiful Anemone Wild Swan

And by being super sharp through the gate when it opened at 10am, by 10.15am I was the proud owner of Anemone Wild Swan – the Chelsea Flower Show plant on the year. They soon sold out, so I was glad I was quick of the mark.

I was really hoping to get this particular plant as the anemones I planted from corms have done so well this year and I wanted to try a new variety.  This one is beautifully white at the front, but with blue tints at the back.

At the gardening Q&A session I asked a question about growing anemones from seed (mine have great big seed heads just now and I have been very tempted to experiment with sowing them in trays).  Apparently it is perfectly doable, but the plants take about three years to flower.  When grown from seeds these plants can have all sorts of random variations, which is how something like Wild Swan comes about.  That sounds like scope for fun!

So I shall definitely be experimenting with propogating anemones this year, just in case I manage to produce a show winner like Anemone Wild Swan.