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Tuesday, 22 January 2019
IT has been a fairly dismal year for gardens but all is not lost, writes Jennie Herrington of Green Room Garden Design in Wargrave
WHAT a year it has been! We had a cold, wet and muddy winter, followed by month upon month of glorious sunshine, but crucially no rain.
Our gardens have been left reeling. So while I am seriously missing the heat, I am grateful that things have taken a bit of a turn.
But all is not lost. I have been continually amazed at what has done brilliantly well despite the weather — gluts of apples and gargantuan blackberries, giant acorns and beech nuts raining down in the woods.
There have been many multiples of bobbing heads of the beautiful Hydrangea Annabelle, typically a drooping mess of leaves and stems when deprived of water.
The autumn landscape and garden seem to have stood up remarkably well too, in spite of it all, and if you want to keep your garden looking lovely now that summer has departed, there are plenty of options to string out the seasons and keep the garden in flower later into the year.
Previously known as Michelmas Daisies, they are now named Symphyotrichum. There are hundreds of different varieties of aster, at least one for everyone.
They flower in the late summer and autumn, and for a long time too. Often with hundreds of daisy-heads per plant, asters come in the cooler colours of purple, lilac, blue, pink and white, and are perfect partners to team with the more subdued colours of autumn.
Remarkable plants, they sit unseen for most of the year and then appear with a flourish, just when you thought the garden was done. They will tolerate a sunny or semi-shady spot and are not too fussy about soil — they will even do well on chalk.
Although it’s hard to pick, my favourite aster is “Little Carlow” — billowing clouds of many tiny mid-purple daisies sit at just a metre tall, perfect in the middle or back of a border.
Fear not, this is not the Japanese type! Persicarias are a glorious plant.
Abundant and floriferous, I have rarely encountered one that hasn’t done well. Although mine suffered a little during the long dry summer, they have come back and put on a stunning show for the past few months.
They have large leaves and delicate, colourful flower spikes. A mid or front of border plant, they like a sunny or semi-sunny spot that is moist but well-drained.
For an ethereal display of dusky pink flowers, try Persicaria amplexicaulis Rosea.
You may think this a strange suggestion, but of late I have found traditional English roses to be exceptionally long-flowering.
When I cut my shrub roses back at the beginning of this year they were still flowering and I had to cut off the buds in the process of the annual hard prune.
There is an English rose for almost any site or situation, so you will never be hard pushed to find one for your garden.
And a perennial garden would not be complete without grasses. Calamagrostis, Deschampsia, Molinia, Hakonechloa, Pennisetum, Stipa and many more besides, are world-class performers in the autumn borders and can often go on until the big spring cut-back if allowed.
• For more information, visit www.thegreenroom
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