Box of Autumn Delights

Capturing the very essence of early autumn, this box of fiery orange chrysanthemums takes pride of place on a white picket fence and rivals any summer display for colour and richness.

Plant up this box in late summer for flowering throughout September and into October. Full sun or part shade. It should take about an hour.

Seasonal Garden Ideas projectPlants required

  • Two bushy pot-grown chrysanthemum plants – buy them in bud, not fully open, so you get the maximum display in your own garden.
  • One each of the following plants: Chinese lantern (Physalis alkekengi), creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia), Ajania pacifica ‘Desert Flame’, sedge (Carex ‘Evergold’) and stonecrop (Sedum ‘Lemon Ball’).

Equipment required

  • Rectangular wooden windowbox or trough, painted pale yellow.
  • Soil-based potting compost.
  • Broken crocks for drainage.
  • Trowel.

1 Water all the plants thoroughly the day before you plant them in the box – they are packed in very tightly which means the compost will dry out quickly, so you need to give them the best possible start.

2 If you have just painted your container, make sure the paint is absolutely dry before starting to plant. Put a layer of broken crocks in the bottom of the container for drainage, then half-fill with compost.

3 Plant the chrysanthemums first, one at each end of the box, checking that their rootballs are at the same depth as they were in their original pots. Firm in.

4 Place the Chinese lantern between the chrysanthemums, then insert the four foreground species: from left to right, creeping Jenny, Ajania, sedge and stonecrop. Set each plant in position, then trickle compost on and around the rootballs, covering each one completely and firming in as you go. Use your fingers to push the compost tightly all round the plants. Fill the box with compost to within 4cm (1½in) of the rim.

5 Hang the box on the fence, or position it wherever you want the display to be, then water thoroughly. This combination needs full sun to perform at its best.

Tip

When buying the chrysanthemums, don’t just pick the first one you see. They can vary considerably in size and quality. Look over all the specimens available, and go for the one with most buds – count them if necessary! It’s a simple trick, but it does ensure you get a plant that will literally flower its head off.

Note

Ajania is quite an unusual, sub-shrubby plant that does well in a sunny position. It’s sometimes called the ‘gold and silver chrysanthemum’. If you can’t find one, replace with marigolds.

Aftercare

Don’t allow the compost to dry out – keep it just moist to the touch. Deadhead the chrysanthemums as the flowers fade. When the display is over, remove all the plants and plant in the ground – they won’t survive more than one season in such a crowded container.

Project taken from Seasonal Garden Ideas.

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