Gardening / For autumn colour, the time is now

Chrysanthemums... always present a good show.

Chrysanthemums… always present a good show.

A LONG, hot summer maybe, but now’s the time to think about the autumn garden.

In the excitement around spring bulbs, the wonderful bulbs for colour in the autumn and early winter can be overlooked. Combined with autumn-flowering perennials, we can rival the spring display.

A good starting point is the local garden centre where, if there are bulbs and perennials in stock, it’s time to get planting.

Nerine bowdenii... a great cut flower.

Nerine bowdenii… a great cut flower.

For autumn colour, let’s start with bulbs:

  • One of my favourites is Nerine Bowdenii with its spidery pink flowers, which last at least seven to 10 days as a cut flower.
  • Colchicum, generally referred to as autumn crocus, is originally from the Middle East and Mediterranean. One of the most popular is Colchicum autumnale, which produces an abundance of flowers in the autumn.
  • Schizostylis coccinea (or winter ixia) flowers from autumn into winter. Similar in growth habit to gladioli, the leaves remain green all year.
The delicate soft blue flowers of Canterbury Bells.

The delicate soft blue flowers of Canterbury Bells.

The range of perennials is vast, but to name a couple, Campanula persica, or  Canterbury Bells, with its bright blue flowers is a delight, and how can we forget chrysanthemums? From miniature varieties to just 20-centimetres tall to the larger, bold flowers of those growing to a metre, chrysanthemums look great in a group.

Asters, or Michaelmas daisies, are also a valuable, hardy autumn flowerer and perfect for every garden.

And lastly, one of the showiest flowers for autumn is the Dahlia family, but you’ll need to get the tubers in as soon as possible.

EXCITING news for home gardeners and farmers in the arrival of a new weed killer registered for use in organic farms and gardens.

Marketed as “Slasher”, it has been developed by the well-known producer of certified organic garden products, Organic Crop Protectants.

“Slasher” kills weeds and algae with rapid action, desiccating plants on contact and being 100 per cent biodegradable within days. Its active ingredient is drawn from genetically modified, free plant oils.

Importantly, it is completely free of the traditional weed-killing ingredient glyphosate, which is great for gardeners and the numerous community gardens trying to remain fully organic.


  • Set the mower blades high to avoid scalping the lawn and exposing the roots to burn off.
  • Dead-head roses and, at the same time, reduce the height of the bush to encourage more shoots and flowers for a second flush of flowers in a few weeks’ time.
  • For great garden information join Yates Garden Club to receive a monthly personal email. Go to
  • Now out of print, but if you ever spot a copy of “A New Zealand Handbook of Bulbs and Perennials”, buy it. Equally applicable here, it’s one of the best books on the subject.


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