As deciduous trees put on that last glorious display before the winter takes hold, autumn is all about vibrant colours in lovely shades of amber, russet and gold.
Autumn flowering perennials magnify those rich autumn tones making for a stunning display as we enjoy a last burst of colour before the garden rests for the winter.
Evolved from the wild prairie species of the United States, Rudbeckia and Echinacea are also known as coneflowers. Both have a dominant central cone with petals radiating outwards like a daisy.
In warm shades of yellow and gold, Rudbeckia flowers are flatter with petals circling a dark central cone whereas Echinacea flowers often have reflex petals which curve downwards from their large ‘spiny’ cone. Traditionally pink or mauve, echinaceas are now available in an impressive array of colours and flower forms.
Caring for Echinaceas and Rudbeckias is relatively easy. These sun lovers enjoy at least 6-8 hours of sun a day and a well drained site. For best performance plant in compost enriched soil and water moderately through the driest parts of summer.
Flowering peaks from summer through to late autumn. Spent flower heads can be trimmed back and tidied prior to winter or left as a food source for birds. Remember to mark their position for spring application of slug and snail pellets at the first sign of new shoots.
When planning flower a garden for bees and other important pollinators it’s important include plants that bloom at the end of summer. Nectar is needed for energy as pollinators prepare their nest or find winter hibernation spots. Late flowering perennials ideal for this purpose include Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Sedum, Scabiosa and a range of daisies which will often flower well into the winter in milder areas of New Zealand.
When pollinators emerge again in early spring they’re hungry after a long hibernation period. Autumn is the perfect time to plant early spring bulbs, annuals and early flowering perennials like nemesia, primula and helleborus, ready to bloom for the earliest risers.
Rudbeckia 'Brilliant Smileyz' boasts masses of vibrant daisy like flowers with a huge central cone.
Dwarf Rudbeckia 'Little Goldstar' teams up with Scabiosa 'Crimson Clouds'.
Echinacea 'Cleopatra' thrives in New Zealand gardens.
Echinacea 'Purple Emporer' has proven hardy in New Zealand trials.