By Mark Hoskins
As we enter September the bright colours of summer begin to fade, but our gardens needn’t be devoid of colour, as a richer, autumnal palette takes over.
Dahlias come into their own at this time of year, their deep colours glow in the mellow autumn sunshine. A particularly lovely variety is Night Butterfly; a ring of dark crimson outdoor petals surround white inner petals, just keep it dead-headed and it will flower profusely until the first hard frost .
Another great group of plants for colour at this time of year is the Hydrangea; paniculata varieties are particularly good. Hardier than the traditional mophead varieties, they can be hard-pruned in the spring and will respond by producing massive cone-shaped heads of white flowers which, in varieties like Diamond Rouge and Wim’s Red, change colour from pink to crimson as the season progresses. The faded flowers can even be left on the plants and provide structure and interest over the winter.
As the month progresses, leaves of trees and shrubs often take on a glorious array of colours. Some of the best trees for this are the Japanese maples, their graceful foliage turns into a kaleidoscope of reds, oranges and yellows.
Small and slow-growing enough to be grown in containers, even the smallest of gardens can find a home for one of these beauties. Some of the best varieties to choose are Orange Dream, Ukigomi, and the lovely red-barked Senkaki.
September is a good time to plan for spring colour and the garden centres are full of daffodils, tulips, crocuses. Fill up your borders, pots and containers, and even your lawns, now, for a riot of colour and fragrance in the spring.