Plant now – and create fireworks in the bordersBy Linda Fort
October 31, 2008
It will be Bonfire Night soon but now is the time to think about creating some fireworks in the garden next season.
There is still time to plant tulips and there are some fiery oranges, vivid reds and crackling yellows to be had in the vast array of tulips on offer.
Alternatively, you could look among the perennials which are currently on sale at cut-down prices in a number of garden centres at the moment.
Look out for really showy specimens like the day lilies (hemerocallis) or the red hot pokers (kniphofia).
There is no telling what might be on offer but do not be put off by a straggly appearance.
That is pretty much what perennial border plants are supposed to look like now.
If this cold weather is here to stay then put any plants in pots you buy now in a sheltered place for the winter and plant them out in the early spring.
When you do plant them, look at them carefully because they may well be big enough to split into two or three new plants.
The main jobs in the garden now are battening down the hatches for winter.
Ensuring things are tied securely, cutting down anything likely to blow over in the winter, knocking snow off shrubs and particularly conifers to prevent damage and preserving any attractive seed-heads that still have a little grace and colour are important chores for now.
Clearing fallen leaves will be an ongoing duty until they have all dropped off the trees.
Clearing them from both the lawn and the border ensures the grass and the border plants continue to grow without smothering. It is a job that ought to be done even if the weather is foul.
Don’t be tempted to walk on the lawn when it is frosty or snowy. It does it no good and should be avoided.
However, if you can get out, take a moment to look at your garden, even if only through a window. Some lovely winter flowers are beginning to appear.
Mahonia japonica is a glorious example of a shrub that comes into its own in winter.
Always statuesque with strikingly cut leaves, now is the time when the lovely panicles of yellow flowers start to appear.
The beauty and grace of a winter flower is worth a dozen of the showy summer numbers competing with each other for attention.
It is not really possible to think of winter flowering plants in terms of a fireworks display, but there are one or two bright moments to be had this season.
For example Rosa moyesii is currently covered in flashing red goblet-shaped hips which are putting on an exciting show.
And Chaenomeles japonica, when it flowers in late winter is a rich and delicious coral pink which adds a fiery warmth.
Cotoneaster berries are colouring beautifully now and the holly berries are currently green but will soon redden and put on a vivid display.
The best fireworks in the November garden still come from the turning leaves – those that are still clinging to the trees.
They put on a last blazing display before the grey winter gloom descends.