October Garden interest

posted in: Gardening | 28
Even at this late stage there is still some October garden interest. Moreover I love the seasonal changes that this month brings. Last month the garden drew in a deep breath after our glorious Perthshire summer and then paused. When it finally exhaled new colours appeared in the borders. Many of the plants took on shades of burnished gold and rich russets. Early morning mists began to hug the borders and a noticeable chill could be felt in the air.
clusters of red crab apple fruits in October
crab apple autumn fruits in the October sunshine

The crab apple tree is laden with scarlet miniature apples.  These will become such a tasty treat for the blackbirds once the very cold weather arrives.

Red flowers in October Schizostylis coccinea | Kaffir Lily
Schizostylis coccinea major  | Kaffir Lily

The scarlet Kaffir lilies have just started to flower.  Here in Scotland I’ve discovered that these plants need plenty of sunlight otherwise the stems grow too long and flop.  I have two clumps in the garden and there’s such a difference in stem length between those in the shade and those grown in the brighter conditions.

flowering plumes from calamagrostis in October
Calamagrostis flowering plumes give good October garden interest

The late summer and autumn flowering plumes of Calamagrostis grasses make great architectural focal points in the garden though take quite a few years ‘to bulk out’ in the border.

Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ with the purple berries from the Callicarpa Beauty bush in the background

Karl Foerster grows in the Mini Dixter part of the garden. Behind this grass grows a Callicarpa shrub which is full of purple berries at the moment … another treat for the birds over the next few months.

Erigeron karvinskianus daisy flowers give good October garden interest

This little Mexican Fleabane daisy has been terrific all summer as it softly trails over the pot. Next year I’d really like to get a few more of these as they seem to flower for months.  I don’t think this one would survive in such a small pot over the winter time so very soon I’ll move it into the border for more frost protection. (click on Scottish Hardiness Ratings to discover how to keep your plants safe during the winter months)

purple scabious flowers in October
Purple scabious flowers

This purple scabious just keeps flowering as I’ve been very diligent with the dead heading this year.

red flowers ice plant sedum autumn joy
Sedum  spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’ give good October garden interest

No autumn garden should be without at least a few varieties of Sedum to help feed the pollinating insects.  This one is Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’.

solitary bee feeding from pink autumn aster
Pink  Aster (one of the Island Series of mildew resistant varieties)

There are still a few solitary bees visiting the garden.  Some weeks ago I watched a bee quite similar to this one burrow into the soil as it made a nest to overwinter in.  I just wonder how many more have little underground nests all over the garden!

Purple autumn flowers Aster x frikartii 'Monch'
Purple Aster in my Mini Dixter

This aster is the most vigorous aster (unknown variety – incorrect label on plant at purchase)  in my garden and Verbena bonariensis towers above it.

yellow cone flower Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii 'Goldstrum'
Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii  ‘Goldstrum’ give good October garden interest

Next to the purple asters I grow 3 clumps of Rudbeckia ‘Goldstrum’.  I’ve always found Rudbeckia slow to establish in this garden – not so sure if it’s down to location or Perthshire winters and heavy soil.

golden hops Humulus lupulus 'Aureus'
Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’ hops

While draping over the blue arch are long stems with cascades of hops. This plant isn’t well behaved the older it gets and needs to be kept well within bounds.  Last year it didn’t produce any hops but this year it’s made up for lost time.

Finally here’s the birds eye view of a small part of the garden in October.

leavesnbloom garden in October 2013
October 2013


 What plants are looking their best in your garden just now?

All of these photos have been taken over the past few days.  There are loads more that I haven’t shared for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  The rest are in this What Looks Good In October G+ album.  (clicking on this link will bring up all the images on 1 page). You can also compare my garden this year with previous October GBBD posts:

Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh. If you'd like to receive the latest leavesnbloom blog posts by email click here.

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28 Responses

  1. Kalantikan

    As always the photos are my inspiration, most specially that purple scabios photo, i love it so much. I love your inclusion again of the wide angle shot of the garden. It seems to give me a more personal touch of the gardener.

  2. Janet/Plantaliscious

    I love the golden hop, worth requiring a little management as it ages. I am hoping to plant some calamagrostis in my front garden, I love the upright form, and I am hoping they will cope with the occasional gale too. I love the way you have captured the golden light, one of the best things about this time of year.

  3. Angie

    Rosie, a perfect autumn garden. My garden hasn't quite reached that stage just yet. Although I'm sure it won't be too long! I've long admired the Schizostylis, is it affected by our wet winters?
    I was also interested that you manage to get Rudbeckia through winter, I've failed miserably in that department but am going to try some in the better drained front garden this year and see how they go.
    Happy Bloom Day x

  4. Rosie Nixon

    thanks Janet/Plantaliscious The calamagrostis are hardier in my garden than miscanthus so that's why I grow them. The first year you plant the young plants they struggle to keep upright when the gales come. I think they are so used to nursery conditions and polytunnels and the stems are much weaker. Once they get into their 2nd and subsequent year in the garden they are much better withstanding the gales and the heavy rains.

  5. Rosie Nixon

    Hi Angie You're always a little bit later with Autumn down in the Lothians 🙂 My Schizostylis came from a school sale and I've had it for about 12 years now. It's just the common red variety which think is tougher than some of the newer introductions. If we lived closer I'd let you have some of mine.

    I was sure it was my conditions with the rudbeckia – but obviously not Angie if you're having problems too. I've 4 clumps in the back garden – westerly facing in pretty good soil and 1 clump in the front – easterly facing under my laburnum tree in clay soil. I just about get them through the winter but I bought well established plants to begin with.

    My problem is Ecinacea – even in the sunniest location mine didn't flower this year.

  6. Rose

    It's always a treat to see your beautiful photos, Rosie. I love the one of the sedum with the red-cushioned chairs visible in the background, and of course the bumblebee! Your garden is still looking lovely even this late in the season.

  7. Rosie Nixon

    thank you Rose the bee isn't one of my best images as I really needed a macro flash ring on for that shot and a tripod. That one is just a quick handheld capture. Red certainly features a lot in the garden 🙂

  8. Christina

    You have some lovely blooms, I'm surprised your calamagrostis is only flowering now, here in Italy it is one of the first grasses to flower in June but even in Southern England it was very early; your latitude does make a huge difference to flowering times.

  9. Carolyn ♥

    Your October is enchanting, Rosie. I especially love the Kaffir lilies…. I've never met them before. Will they grow in my zone 5b gardens. So lovely!

  10. Alistair

    Hi Rosie, still amazing colour in your garden. Now I know why my Schizostylis is so floppy in our north facing front garden. I have a feeling your Aster x frikartii 'Monch was mislabeled when you purchased it. I only know this as it has been a favourite perennial of ours for twenty years, terrific pale blue Aster 3ft tall which is one of the first to bloom. often starting in early August.

  11. rusty duck

    Wonderful autumnal colours. Very envious of your Callicarpa which looks to be covered in berries. I've had one a couple of years but no sign yet. Just a lot of green leaves!

  12. ann

    Hi Rosie. Your photos are gorgeous, but I love your description. Your narrative is wonderful.

  13. Wife, Mother, Gardener

    Lots of lovely flowers & foliage in your garden this month, Rosie! Being a GD fan, I love the Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' with the beauty bush. And how nice to see a good sized Humulus 'Aureus'! I just planted one for my garden design client & am hoping it will grow to match yours.

    Happy October!

  14. Rosie Nixon

    lol You're right about the Aster. and I know how easy labels can be misapplied on nursery stock before it ends up for saleAlistair I've just checked and there's no way I've got Monch. Thanks for pointing that out 🙂 Now I'm going to have to go through all my blog posts and change them.

    I haven't a clue what type of aster this is – my first guess would be Aster amellus 'Veilchenkönigin'as it flowers Sept/Oct and this is a later flowering aster.

    BTW now that I've seen the real Monch I want one!

  15. Rosie Nixon

    Thanks Carolyn ♥ I've checked for you and they are only for Zone:6 to 9 gardens in USA. I did see that there's a flower in the USA that's also called Kaffir Lily but it's a Clivia miniata.

  16. Rosie Nixon

    thanks rusty duck I wonder if it's because I've got 2 shrubs. Mine are about 12 years old and each of them is about 8 feet tall. Before I bought them someone suggested that it would be better to have 2 of them in the garden for fruit production. Mine have fruited every year since they were small plants and they grow next to each other.

    There are plenty of Callicarpa's for sale at this time of year so you could try and plant a new one near the one that's already there. 🙂

  17. Rosie Nixon

    Hi and thank you Julie Wife, Mother, Gardener I have just moved the other two to grow along the fence. This has been the best year for hops in ages though warn your clients that the leaves can bring you out in a rash. I usually handle mine with gloves and long sleeves.

  18. HELENE

    Lovely autumn photos, and the light we get at this time of year is so wonderful for making our photos special, don’t you think? In my garden it is certainly the fuchsias taking the centre stage at the moment, although some of them have been flowering since July, only now are they all in flower. I hope for a long, frost-free autumn!