Life after the petunias….


Viola Beacon Blue – just one from a myriad choice of violas and larger flowered pansies


Large-flowered Cyclamen, bringing colour to autumn and winter containers

September next week it is, and the nights are drawing in. Containers full of summer colour – lobelias, petunias, marigolds, begonias and all that – might be looking a little ragged by now and boy, will they have been working hard. Keep deadheading, watch the watering and pep them up with a dose of tomato fertiliser and they may keep going for a few more weeks yet.

Then again, it is a perfect time to ring the changes and give a new range of plants time to get established before the colder weather sets in. Pansies and violas planted in fresh compost now will quickly get a decent set of roots established – they will be quite able then to deal with the very worst the British Winter can hurl at them. Snow and Ice? Pah! Violas, with the smaller flowers, are I think hardier than the larger faced Pansy, though both are pretty tough. Deadhead to prolong flowering and feed next Spring to revive them for a last display.

There is such variety with pansies and violas and every colour bar a good red. Trailing varieties (quite new) will soften the edge of a container or hanging basket.

Teamed with Cyclamen, coming in a range of whites, soft pinks, deeper pinks, reds, wine colours, with picotee edges and ruffles, even bi-colours, they make for an interesting seasonal mix. Add a little evergreen euonymus, perhaps a little heather, a baby grass, some ivy and there you have it. A display for the next 4-6 months. The cyclamen to be fair, will need a little winter protection for those particularly frosty nights in more exposed situations. Town gardens, window  boxes arrangements for example, may just be sheltered enough.

One final thing, a bulb or two, or three. Narcissus like Tete-a-Tete have several blooms to each stem (as you might surmise) and a long flowering period next Spring. Just as this new display might be showing signs of age and stress, up pop these bright yellow stars and the whole ensemble has a few more weeks of good service to put in for you. Depending on the arrangement, and the container, you might add muscari (the grape hyacinth), some other of the smaller narcissus, snowdrops, shorter tulips, iris reticulata, hyacinths, all manner of bulbs that can be planted now to slumber over the winter.

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