This Month in the Garden with Kate Hill

Regular readers may be wondering why the smiling photo of Derek Cox is not as usual at the top of this page. The reason is that my uncle Derek has asked me to have a go at writing the ornamental gardening section. Well, those are some mighty big boots to fill and I’m only a self-taught amateur but I’ll give it a go, so please bear with me!
Writing this in a very mild mid-November finds the beautiful cobalt blue salvia I bought from the man who sells plants at East Goscote still flowering its socks off. I don’t know the variety (I call it East Goscote Blue) and boy, am I glad I bought it. Currently in a pot it looks stunning against a backdrop of silver leaved Senecio cineraria.
Also still flowering in pots either side of the front door are two orange and red Lantanas, purchased as annual plants but I may be able to overwinter them in the garage when the weather turns frosty. Lantanas are part of the Verbena family and I fell in love with them when I saw them growing wild in Seville, where they are hardy.
Callicarpa bodinieri, pictured above, (commonly known as beauty berry for obvious reasons) is an eye catching shrub at this time of year as it produces vibrant purple berries on bare stems. The rest of the year it tends to blend into the background but it’s definitely worth growing for its berries that shine like jewels especially in the winter sunshine.

I grow numerous varieties of aster (Michaelmas daisies) which are invaluable for late summer and autumn colour. A particular favourite is Aster trinervius var. harae which doesn’t start flowering until October and carries on for many weeks producing a mass of small violet coloured flowers with yellow centres. Some aster varieties can be prone to mildew but not this one – it’s a superstar and one I wouldn’t want to be without. It provides valuable food for bees and other insects at a time when many other flowers have long gone over. I took some cuttings a few weeks ago which have all taken and seem quite happy on my kitchen windowsill. I’m looking forward to potting them on when they have developed a decent root system.
Whilst it has been a treat to enjoy this mild autumn who knows what winter has in store? Winter in this country is a bit like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get!

A Message from the Editor
We would also like to say a huge Thank you to Derek Cox for all the years he has written this column for us. And also a huge thank you to Kate for stepping in take over the writing of this column.
Kate would like to keep the title but have a flower of the month along side instead of a picture of herself.
We want to wish Derek and Vi all the very best and hope they enjoy their retirement.