At the end of a golden summer come the autumn bulbs

August 27, 2014 – 02:27 am

Colchicums, not autumn crocusAutumn. It is indubitably autumn. I can no longer pretend it is just the summer slowly waning and that winter is still a long way off. For most people, autumn is synonymous with leaves colouring to fiery hues.

However those of us in coastal areas may carry that mental image but the reality can fall well short. Inland areas get much better autumn colour because the nights cool down more rapidly and it is the sharp drop in temperatures which triggers the colouring response in most deciduous plants as much as the declining day length. The moderating effect of the sea means we drift far more slowly between seasons and the leaves are inclined to turn brown and fall, skipping much of the colouring process.

Our extensive use of evergreen plants in this country also mitigates against fantastic mass displays of autumn colour. Our native plants are all evergreen and in a generally benign gardening climate, we tend to favour evergreen exotics as well. I have met many gardeners who shun deciduous plants because they are allegedly messy and lack winter interest, which has always seemed a bit myopic to me. We are never going to rival countries like Canada with its native maples when it comes to a mass blaze of autumn tones.

Colchicums, not autumn crocusIt is the autumn bulbs that signal the change in season for me. There are so many pretty seasonal flowers coming through now. These are triggered into bloom by a drop in temperature, declining day length and some by late summer rain – don’t laugh at that last one.

Gardeners in this country tend to focus on the spring bulbs – from the early snowdrops through the snowflakes, bluebells, tulips, daffodils, anemones and ranunculus. These are readily available and marketed widely. They also flower at a time when the majority of trees and shrubs are blossoming forth.

The autumn bulbs have never captured the market in the same manner yet they bring freshness to the garden at a time when many plants are looking tired or passing over. I find them a wonderful antidote to the autumnal despondency of declining day length. There they are, all pretty and perky, just coming into their prime.

The charm of carpets of Cyclamen hederfolium Moraea polystachya - the autumn flowering peacock iris We are big fans of the Nerine sarniensis hybrids


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Plants, kids, and pets??

Please check before you plant. Many common garden plants can make a child or a pet severely ill if not kill them. Put in "list common garden plants poison" and look at the websites. All parts of some plants, and only specific parts of other plants are toxic. These are just a few.
Daffodils, hyacinths
Castor Bean
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Daphne, wisteria
Rhodys, azaleas
If you have children or pets please check before you plant.

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