It’s high time to be making seasonal cuts to perennials

Christmas can’t be all that far away – and with a bit of luck there’ll be plenty of berried holly to deck the halls. Before then, however, there are things to do in the garden.

Alliums are a great investment for the gardener.
Alliums are a great investment for the gardener.

So, it’s almost time to cut back the stems of flowering perennial plants such as coreopsis, helenium, coneflower, tradescantia and penstemon. They should have finished blooming and it makes sense to tidy up the growth and give the compost heap a welcome boost of easily-digested foliage.

Cut back stems to a couple of inches above ground level so you know where the plant is and you can avoid digging it up when planting bulbs and corms for next spring’s display.

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Some perennials, such as Chinese Lantern (Physalis) ornamental grasses and globe thistle, (Echinops), should be left as long as possible to allow their seed-heads to brighten up the winter border and provide food for birds.

And don’t be too quick to hack back Michaelmas daisies (asters) which may still produce a few late flowers. The same applies to chrysanthemums, phlox, sedums and Japanese anemones. Thankfully, not everything is about preparing for winter – there’s still time to plant bulbs and corms for next year’s flowers.

If you fancy something different from the standard all-yellow varieties of daffodils, try ‘Salome’, a variety with white petals and pink trumpets.

A similar colouring but this time in a ‘double’ form, so the pink is splashed all around white petals, is found in the variety ‘Replete’.

Dwarf rockery narcissi are worth planting in containers or on the edges of the flower border. If you want to stick to a white and pink theme, then ‘Reggae’ is the one choose.

For something completely different, consider the multi-headed Triandus narcissi, which are highly fragrant and come in pale lemon (‘Tresamble’), yellow (‘Stint’) and white (‘Silver Chimes’).

Alliums are a great investment –decorative onion bulbs producing spectacular flowerheads in May and June. They range in size from small drumsticks to the giant ‘Globemaster’ and come in various colours from white through pink, lilac and purple.

As with many bulbs, they will flower well in the first year but gradually lose vigour as they age. So spray the foliage with a liquid fertiliser and then leave the leaves to die back naturally. The results of your hard work should be seen the following year.