It’s autumn, and to keep the colour going, the gardener turns to plants of doubtful hardiness. Annuals struggle on, desperate to set seed before the frosts kill them off, dahlias flaunt in the borders before midnight chimes, while chrsyanthemums dash in, arriving at the last minute before the curtain falls on another gardening year.
But wait, not all chrsyanthemums are tender. While the large decoratives, pompoms, incurves, spiders, quills and other intensely-bred flower forms might not stand up to the cold, there are others, with smaller, simpler flowers, that are tough enough to withstand winter.
A few years ago, I was given a rooted cutting in a small pot. The flowers, I was told, are dark red. They certainly are.
It came without a name but is almost certainly ‘Ruby Mound’. Growing to two feet in height in a sunny corner, it has come back year after year without any fuss. A seller reckons it will take -8C without asking any questions. Others sold by the same company are reputed to take temperatures into double digit negative territory, although mulching the roots would be insurance in cold areas. With whites, pinks, mauves, reds, oranges, and yellows – just imagine the show you could put on for bonfire night with a border of these late flowers. And put the sun behind ‘Ruby Mound’ and the fireworks start even sooner.