Appreciate anemones? Pair them with the cosmos!
In The Seasonal Gardener Anna Pavord explains how to bring flowers into autumn - side by side
Good gardening works both with and against nature. Just ask Anna Pavord. In her new book, The Seasonal Gardener: Creative Planting Combinations, this award-winning gardening journalist and author brings together sixty of her favourite plants, arranges them seasonally, and selects two perfect complementary plants. Pavord guides gardeners through the vicissitudes of seasons, but also shows how, with careful planning, a garden can push back against the conventional, natural cycle of flowers in spring and golden leaves in autumn, to create flower beds that are filled with colour and surprises throughout the year.
In her section, Into Autumn, Pavord acknowledges the simple, physical pleasure of being out of doors during the first few days of this season. “The warm, still days of autumn often provide the best gardening conditions of the year,” she argues. “The soil has become moist again, but not so wet that it cannot easily be worked. The ground is still warm and the air too, and dahlias and other autumn flowers are bursting with new blooms ripe for cutting. There is an element of chance about these gorgeous days of autumn: each one, you feel, might be the last, and nothing can be taken for granted.”
Anna Pavord. photo courtesy Anna Pavord
Nevertheless, Pavord has found ways to reduce that element of chance, particularly when it comes to late blooms. In this section of the book, she includes the Japanese anemone Anemone × hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’, which flowers late summer to mid autumn. “Few good perennials are as easy going as Japanese anemones,” Pavord writes. “They are stayers too: in old, abandoned gardens where brambles and couch grass have smothered all other plants, you still see them flowering profusely (often alongside old-fashioned double red peonies), repelling all boarders, defending their territory. The foliage, tough vine-like leaves of a dull matt green, is quite late to appear, but from late summer onwards there is an astonishing succession of flowers, charmingly simple in outline, the petals gathered round a central, greenish knob.”
An excellent choice for anyone missing the blooms from earlier in the year. Yet what should you plant alongside, to support this beautiful flower? Pavord has two suggestions: the foxtail lily, Eremurus × isabellinus ‘Cleopatra’, and a cosmos, Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Rubenza’. “The cosmos will probably beat the anemones into flower (it depends on when they were planted out and how warm the summer has been),” she writes. “If sowing seed does not appeal, buy plug plants and grow them on. ‘Rubenza’ is a rich, dark red, wonderful to pick and incredibly generous with its flowers. The tall coppery spires of the eremurus will come before the anemone and the cosmos, an eye-catching prelude to the late summer display.”
The Seasonal Gardener
Sounds like quite a show, especially so late in the year. To find out more about these plants and many others, order a copy of The Seasonal Gardener here.