Autumn Asters!

There are many autumn flowering plants, but one of the most reliable and colourful are asters with their lovely daisy-like flowers. The perennial types come in many shapes and sizes to suit all gardens and the colour range goes from white through various shades of pink and mauve to deep purple. Collectively they tend to be known as Michaelmas daisies, although Aster novi-belgii is the true Michaelmas daisy, which along with some other types of aster can be prone to powdery mildew. Fortunately, there are now many modern hybrids that have a much better resistance to the disease, so there is absolutely no excuse for not growing them in your garden. For smaller gardens Aster alpinus is perfect as it form as a mound approximately 30cm tall. Aster x frikartii and its cultivars are also very popular and have flowers that are in shades of lavender-blue on plants that grow to around 45cm tall. If it’s height that you want then look no further than Aster novae-angliae which forms a clump and grows to 1.2-1.5m tall depending on the cultivar. There are many different flower colours to choose from and this type of aster is both strong growing, reliable and disease free making it a very popular choice for the garden. This autumn asters are flowering very well, helped no doubt by the good summer weather and mild autumn. Autumn asters are guaranteed to brighten up a border and if you haven’t got any in your garden, add them to your shopping list for next year – you won’t be disapponted!

Readers’ Questions

David from Harrogate has emailed me to ask about Bramley apples. He bought and planted a tree in his garden two years ago and this year it has fruited for the first time and produced 12 large apples. Although the fruits are the shape of the ones you buy in supermarkets, instead of being green, David’s fruits have some red on them and he wonders if he has a different variety?

Well done for planting a Bramley, which is an excellent cooking apple. The fruits of the Bramley are quite distinctive and are usually slightly ribbed to give an angular appearance. You are correct in the fact that most Bramley’s offered for sale tend to be green, but that is simply because they are usually picked from the tree before they have time to ripen. If the fruits are left on the tree until October and the weather is sunny, the fruits will develop a dark red flush and stripes, which is I’m sure what has happened to your fruits. The Bramley fruits in the picture are growing in my garden on a tree which is a clone off the original Bramley Seedling that is still growing and fruiting in Nottinghamshire aged 204 years old!

Jobs for the week

Keep the lawn lightly trimmed through the autumn to keep the grass neat and tidy as we go into winter. Choose a dry day and wait until the dew has dried before mowing.

Plant wallflowers, winter flowering pansies and polyanthus into containers or the border and if the weather is dry, water the roots to help them established.

As summer vegetables come to an end the old plants can be removed and added to the compost heap. It’s also a good idea to pull out any weeds at the same time so that you have a clean plot ready for winter digging.

Carry on planting spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils and crocus making sure you plant at least twice their depth.