With autumn sunshine and cooler nights there are flowers that will give you plenty of colour in October if you plan ahead. So if your garden has looked dull this year and you have the right soil, here are a few ideas for late colour, mainly in pink and red.
For well drained soil in sunshine, such as at the base of a wall I would try Nerine bowdenii. This exotic looking deep pink flower is about 30 cm (12 ins) tall and emerges before the leaves. You will need to keep the area clear of invasive ground cover as the plants will struggle to pop up. Plant these bulbs about 2 inches below ground in groups and once established they will clump up. To go with it as ground cover, plant Cyclamen hederifolium, the autumn flowering cyclamen. They too like well drained soil and also do well under trees provided the soil isn’t wet. With their tiny pink and white flowers popping up before the marbled foliage, they will form a carpet around trees and shrubs if you let them self seed.
For something more dramatic how about Yucca gloriosa Variegata? As you can see from the photo, this is a dramatic spikey plant with a tall spire of creamy bell flowers. It is reasonably hardy if grown in a sheltered spot with well drained soil. The variegated foliage looks good throughout the year then a flower spike in autumn is a bonus. I would plant Sedum spectabile (Ice plant) around it for flat heads of red flowers in autumn and low growing perennial geraniums for summer interest.
There is still plenty of interest from the fading heads of Hydrangea flowers, the tall spikes of Teazels and even the seed heads of Crocosmia Lucifer add structure to the fading beauty of autumn.
In the garden there is a lot to be done. Planting bulbs of Daffodils, Chinodoxa, Alliums and Lilies for colour next year should be done in October and November when the soil is still warm from summer with moisture to get them growing.
Prune climbing roses by cutting out the oldest stems and tying in new shoots horizontally to get them to send up flowering side shoots next year. Stems that you want to keep and have flowered this year, cut back by half and tie in.
October is also the classic time to split and replant perennials. Cut back the old foliage, dig them up and chop or pull into smaller pieces selecting the newest growth for replanting or giving away to friends.