by Pat Woolston (2021)

All gardeners have been stunned by the late and unusual colour in our gardens this October and even into mid- November. The stars of the show for us have not been the hardy perennials but the tender ones we grow amid them, namely the Salvias and to a lesser extent some remaining Dahlias. Together as well, there have been some interesting combinations. A Salvia which showed its wonderful orange-red spikes in October was one of our Sconfertiflora contrasting with the bark of the birch behind it.

S. confertiflora

A Salvia which proves its garden worthiness every year and has again this year, is S.Amistad’'. The deep shade of purple flowers provide a background to contrast with other simultaneously flowering plants. The image shows it working well with Dahlia ‘Twyning’s After Eight’ with its’ white flowers and very dark foliage at this time of the year.

S.Amistad’' with Dahlia ‘Twyning’s After Eight’ 

Another one which is hardy in some areas and very garden worthy is S. involucrata ‘Bethellii'. This year along with many of the Salvias now still flowering in November, it is good as a structural plant and also for mingling, by arching through other plants in the border.

S. involucrata ‘Bethellii'

A striking blue one which is not widely available, is S. atrocyanea which flowers late and usually needs support but stands out with its’ lime green bracts against the superb flowers.

S. atrocyanea

The Salvia which has seen its’ best ever late display is the red flowering S. ‘Scarlet Pineapple’ with its’ nodding heads, which has also made ridiculous growth this year.

S. ‘Scarlet Pineapple’

Some of the plants also cheering up the October scene were the Cannas with their dark foliage and bright orange flowers and Dahlia ‘Bishop of Auckland’, Nerines, Strobilanthes wallichillii. syn. atropurpurea. We also had colour provided by the Fuschia ‘Red Spider’and F. ‘Black Beauty’, plus potsful of Begonias and infilling of Nicotiana langsdorffii as well as others too numerous to mention!!!

D. ‘Twyning’s After 8’ with D. ‘Bishop of Auckland’               Strobilanthes  wallichii syn. atropurpurea

We love our hardy perennials but due to the strange weather we have been treated to an unexpected late pleasure, which if the forecast is correct for next week will be with us no longer and so we will look forward to see what next year brings..........

                  Fuchsia ‘Black Beauty’                                                    Nicotiana langsdorffii

Begonias in pots