You’ll be seeing a lot of pink this month and if you don’t know why, then lucky you. Most will know that in this part of the world, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month when pink is the order of the day to raise awareness of this dangerous disease and remind us all to be vigilant, as thankfully, when detected and treated early, outcomes for those affected can be much better than in times past. This month you’ll see magazines with pink covers, designers flogging pink frocks and all manner of products from phone covers to lipstick to kitchen utensils produced in limited-edition shades of pink, with many donating a percentage of proceeds to breast cancer charities both here and in the U.K.
In order to do our bit on Gardenwise, we thought we’d bring you some flowers that bloom in October in pink – easy to find in a florist’s shop but not so common in the garden in this neck of the woods. Once you plant these ladies, you’ll have them for years to come and they will help extend the season of interest further into the autumn.
First up is the Guernsey lily or Nerine bowdenii, an absolute sparkler of a bloom with round globes of bright pink flowers the size of a biggish grapefruit – if you are familiar with Agapanthus, they are quite similar, only pink and slightly ruffled at the edges. They can be planted as bulbs and will thrive in a sunny spot in well-drained soil. Narrow bright green strap like leaves appear in spring and early summer and die back in late summer so that you have almost forgotten about them, and in late September or early October they start shooting up from the borders like dazzling pink fireworks.
Another super bulb for October is Hesperantha coccinea, which you can often buy as a potted plant in garden centres, and you might find it under it’s older name of Schizostylis coccinea, or Kaffir lily. Often a warm salmon pink, it looks great with late flowering perennials and grasses, and as it also has narrow upright leaves it takes up very little room, so it’s a great way to pack more plants into a border and keep it flowering for longer. For delicate pink blooms in October try “Pink Princess”. Hesperantha and Nerine make really good cut flowers with Nerines in particular looking spectacular in a vase. Very appropriate to bring along if you are attending a breast cancer fundraiser this month.
On a smaller scale, the little autumn flowering cyclamen, Cyclamen hederifolium is coming into flower this month. It’s a tuberous perennial happy in semi shade, not to be confused with the potted cyclamens sold as winter bedding plants at this time of year – although these are a good option for pots and window-boxes. Cyclamen hederifolium has dainty little pink flowers and ivy-shaped green leaves, sometimes marked with silver. Lovely to look at on damp October days when you’re planting your bulbs for next spring – when we can look forward to lots more pink as well as loads of other lovely colours!
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Nerine bowdenii sparkling in October sunshine