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Flowers that appear to ‘cheat’ the approach of winter by blooming late in the year always seem special. As one goes ever deeper into autumn the garden can deliver berries and the often glorious colours that precede leaf fall, but only a few flowers. Those plants that flower in October, and continue well into November can feel quite magical.
Roses can have a long season in flower. By November some may still carry a few blooms. These are usually smaller than in summer and can be all the more precious when their beauty seems fragile. The soft double pink flowers of Rosa Bonica = ‘Meidomonac’ can still be seen in mid-November, as can sweetly fragrant Rosa ‘Stanwell Perpetual’ while the China rose Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’ can convincingly be in flower from May onwards.
Abelia have a long season in bloom and Abelia x grandiflora ‘Francis Mason’ can come into bloom in August when its arching branches with their shiny green and gold leaves are enhanced by delicately fragrant pale pink flowers. These can still be present in the first couple of weeks of November.
Some of the good-natured, shrubby, slightly tender Salvias can still produce flowers in November, having been in bloom for many months. The pale yellow blooms of Salvia x jamensis ‘La Luna’ and the red-magenta flowers of Salvia microphylla ‘Cerro Potosi’ flower joyously onwards. Cherish these in a warm spot and accept that they can be a little sad and tattered by the end of winter, they will quickly rejuvenate and resume flowering the next year.
On a smaller scale there are some herbaceous plants that only come into flower in autumn, and some of these are still in bloom during November. Saxifraga fortunei forms, (the autumn saxifrage) is a small quiet plant during spring and summer. It often only starts to bloom during October when its frothy inflorescence packed with white starry flowers become a feature and last into the first part of November.
Asters are a great autumn favourite and make a major contribution in the first part of autumn. Aster lateriflorus ‘Prince’, also grown for its black foliage, has small pale pink daisy flowers in October and November. Aster oolentangiensis an American prairie plant, smothers itself in tiny lavender-pink blooms in October and early November. If you have a taste for the unusual the Formosan Toad lily, Tricyrtis formosana, has clusters of tiny lily-like flowers in shades of red-purple and brown and can bloom from August to November.
Bulbs in their endless variety come at all seasons. Autumn delivers some real beauties.
The Kaffir lily, Hesperantha coccinea and its forms with flowers in shades of pink from pale to strong, as well as white, can flower from late summer into December and contribute cheery colour with a heartening enthusiasm. The elegant spider lilies luxuriate in warm and dry positions. When suited, Nerine bowdenii brings pink flowers with the freshness of spring and defies the rich hues one associates with the autumn garden.
Finally, if you have a rockery or raised bed with sunshine and light sandy soil indulge in one of the small evergreen Daphne x translantica varieties such as Daphne x translantica Eternal Fragrance = ‘Blafra’ which often flowers several times a year. The small four-petalled blooms carry an intense and delicious fragrance that makes you want to linger in your garden and relish its gifts..
Enjoy your garden.
Susan A. Tindall

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