Make the colour last well into autumn

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GARDENING: Brian Kidd on cold frames and frosted camellias

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Are you looking forward to autumn? It’s not far away and if you’re like me, then you’ll think autumn is okay (except that it’s getting dark earlier and, as we were deprived of summer, that seems a bit unfair).

At home we try to keep winter at bay by cutting off all the dead blooms on the annuals, dahlias and bedding plants.

Plus, in the case of perennials, the stems are being cut back to remove the dead flowers but leave the foliage.

The reason for this is because a lot of perennials will produce side shoots and these will flower in a few weeks’ time.

A couple of weeks ago we had to cut the tall delphiniums down because I wanted to save some seeds of Blue Moon, one of my favourites.

To erase the footprints, the soil around the clump was forked over and there are now about seven shoots about 6in tall growing from the outer edge of the clump. Wonderful!

The area has now been forked over again and a dressing of blood, fish and bone applied and watered in.

This will bring along about seven lovely shoots which will flower in autumn – helping to keep the winter at bay.

The autumn-flowering Cyclamen hederaefolium can be found at all garden centres.

If planted now, half-burying the tubers in a well-drained place in partial shade, they will be in bloom after a couple of weeks.

They’re great for a tasteful display of autumn colour in any garden, whatever the size.

Have you an area of about a foot square which you would like to see as a carpet of colour in six weeks’ time?

Great, have a look at the fancy packs of autumn crocus corms hanging up on racks at garden centres (complete with beautiful pictures of the blooms on the front of the pack).

Give yourself a real treat for around £3 for 10 corms.

Fork the area over, remove weeds, scatter over half a cup of blood, fish and bone fertiliser and work this into the ground.

Pop in seven corms to form a circle and then plant the remaining three an equal distance apart in the centre.

This is just what you need to cheer up the garden, instant colour in about a month’s time.

Very often a single corm will produce two or more flowers. I think this represents very good value for money.

A friend of mine tells me he is not stocking as many bulbs as usual because no-one buys them any more. Is this true?

After I mentioned on this page that Nerines and Amaryllis can be planted at this time of year, I see there really aren’t very many left in the garden centres in those pretty-coloured packs.

So somebody out there must be buying them!