Shrubs for Autumn Flowers
The late summer and early autumn are times of the year whencan begin to look a little tired and dusty, when shrubs tend to produce berries rather than flowers, and when foliage changes to its autumn colouring.
However, there are in fact plenty of shrubs whose best display only now begins. These will provide flower colour until the first frosts.
The native heather, Calluna vulgaris, is found on Scottish and English moors and hills. It begins flowering in August and continues through until November. Much hybridising and collecting of specially good wild forms have occurred, and there are many most attractive varieties in all shades of pink, red, purple and rose, and many others which are strikingly attractive for their foliage. They must have acid soils, preferably containing — will make a good substitute provided it is not from trees growing on — and they should be trimmed over in April. Calluna vulgaris H. E. Beale is a variety of Calluna vulgaris with long spikes of deep pink, double flowers thickly clustered on the stem; C. v. searlei has long white flower spikes and bright green foliage; C. v. Gold Haze really does have bright, golden foliage all year round; C. v. Goldsworth Crimson is deep red, flowering very late.
These are late-flowering shrubs, not starting until September. Sometimes known as the blue spiraea, they have greyish-green leaves and extremely attractive flowers in varying shades of blue. Caryopteris clandonensis reaches about 4 ft., but can be kept shorter than this by careful pruning. Heavenly Blue is similar but a little taller and a darker blue. Caryopteris do best in sun and well-drained soils and should be pruned in spring, cutting back almost to ground level.
There are not many shrubs with blue flowers, but ceanothus is one of them. Flowering time varies from spring to autumn according to species and variety, and Gloire de Versailles, a particularly good variety, has light blue flowers in late summer and autumn. ‘Autumnal Blue’, , has dark blue, rather stout flower spikes. ‘Henri Defosse’ also has deep blue flowers, but with a hint of purple in them. If evergreen, ceanothus are not completely hardy, and all do best if grown against walls. They can be trained easily to any shape, and time of pruning varies according to the rules given on the page about Caring for Shrubs.
These little shrubs, once called veronicas, produce delightful spikes of blue, purple, red, pink or white flowers from late summer till October. They are evergreen, growing to 3 or 4 ft. high and make a most useful addition to the autumn display. Hebe ‘Carl Teschner’ is purple, 1 ft; La Seduisante, brilliant reddish--coloured spikes of flowers; Hebe lindsayi has short, bright pink flower spikes, and Simon Delaux, deep red ones. Hebe brachysiphon grows somewhat taller than the average, to about 5 ft., and has white flowers in June. Hebe andersonii variegata has blue-violet spikes in late summer and autumn, and white variegated leaves; it reaches about 4 ft. Prune in spring to keep the plants’ shape attractive and remove straggling shoots.
A shrub with a name so evocative of the South Seas seems unlikely to make much of a display in chilly English gardens but the varieties of the Hibiscus syriacus produce a surprising profusion of flowers in pink, rosy-red, purple, blue and white.
They are the authentic hibiscus shape, with crinkled crepe-paper petals. Give them a sunny position and good, well-drained soil and do not prune except to tidy the outline. Hamabo is pink with a deep red centre; Blue Bird is blue with a red centre; elegantissimus is a double white with a crimson centre, and Woodbridge is a deep pink with a crimson centre. Coeleste is a single variety with deep blue flowers. They reach a height of about 8 ft.
A member of the Leguminosae, the Pea family, indigoferas have feathery leaves and a graceful habit of growth. They flower throughout the summer and autumn. Indigofera potaninii has pink flowers, rather than the usual purple, as has I. gerardiana. Both reach 5 ft. or a little more, require little pruning and are not particular as to soil.
Bright, rose-purple, pea-like flowers in graceful hanging clusters late in the season characterise this shrub. Lespedeza thunbergii is one of the best species, and its large rosy-purple flowers are set off by the trifoliate formation of the leaves. Prune lightly in spring. This shrub may be spoilt if the weather turns cold early in the autumn, but it flowers so heavily that it is worth trying for that time of the year when shrubs, and indeed most plants, are ceasing, or have already ceased, to flower. It is not particular as to soil, but a cold windy situation should be avoided to get the best from it. It grows to 5 ft.