Well, I finally gave in and broke out the bedsocks. The chill of autumn is creeping upon us – which is why this month's visit to New Covent Garden is so very welcome. It's toasty everywhere!
If you're in need of some warming too, grab a mug of tea, pull up an armchair, and sit by our fireside for a while.
Let's start with Alagar's amaranthus "Hot Biscuits", a delicious hobnob-gingersnap of a flower.
Pratley's next door has burgundy-wine amaranthus, nestled amongst English chrysanths in falling-leaf shades. (Mmm, biscuits and wine...)
Mini-mosaics of corn on the cob at Porters.
What a colour range! Perfect for harvest festival and thanksgiving arrangements. Add dog-rose hips,
pumpkin and crab apples and you’ve got a feast for the eyes. (Mmm, sweetcorn and pumpkin…)
Good job Boomerang has scarecrows on sale, or the tasty crops would be gone;
including these branched apples, at Waitson, paired with cherry-red dahlia.
Ah, dahlia. Here's SR Allen's citrussy stonker, plus glowing viburnum opulus berries;
and Goodchild's dangerously dark dahlias with "Sonia" sunflowers – rich eggy-yellow, and a manageable size for handtieds.
Tartrazine-orange dahlias with tanned shampoo ginger at Alagar;
full-on physalis (Chinese lanterns) all over the Market;
and fat traffic-light chillies at Quality Plants.
Even their echeveria looks sunburnt.
Your foliage can be just as cosy-warm: EH Hart's umber oakleaf;
gold-dusted eleagnus at GB Foliage (courtesy of Mother Nature, not a spray can),
and apricot arbutus berries (possibly, Dave's not sure on the ID).
Porters' red brunia snuggles up to Barry's latest find, a fynbos called pubescens.
"No one wants to ask for it", he admits (hmm, can't imagine why), "so I’ve renamed it Teddy Bear". It’s baby-bird-soft and lasts for ages – worth a punt for corporate work.
Foliage fan? Barry recommends Leucodendron discolor, bronzey-grey-green, as a classier alternative to ubiquitous safari sunset. At £1.75/bunch, you can't go wrong as it "lasts like blazes". (He didn’t actually say blazes.) GB Foliage has cranberry-purple leycesteria;
Goodchild's fat-tailed setaria looks appetising;
or what about Zest's spooky pennisetum "Purple Majesty"? Now booking for Hallowe’en.
A classic autumn favourite is vintage-style 'antique' hydrangea, the plant’s reaction to dropping temperatures. Think of it as the rosy cheeks of the flower world.
Painterly shades result – Bloomfield has the biggest hydrangea selection, as you can see;
elsewhere, gorgeous marine blue-verdigris-lilac,
and elegantly-blushing hydrangea paniculata.
If you're trying to colourmatch difficult wedding themes, it’s a lifesaver.
Speaking of which, here's another flower for your 'vintage' list: DG Flowers' coffee-plum lisianthus "Double Brown Rosan".
Not the most poetic name, granted. The DG guys prefer ordering germinis, as they get to ask "have you got Pokerface?" to their supplier... I prefer this sunset-shaded germini, "Mirai".
Pretty much everything this summer has been later-starting, and longer-lasting, because of the cold grey weather. But autumn (and even winter) flowers are now coming in – here's colchicum bulbs sprouting on Evergreen's sales desk;
erica at Arnott & Mason, with flowering skimmia tubs;
sedum pots in starry flower, also at Evergreen;
and John Austin's cut sedum – the delicate fluffy "Carl Pink".
Eric asked me, "Why isn’t sedum more popular?" - if you’ve got an answer, let us know!
(On a side topic, this blog doesn’t come with sound. Or you'd hear classic 70's disco as we pass John Austin, and old skool reggae at Bloomfield. Yet another thing you miss by shopping online - along with the sweet scents, the cheeky banter, and the bacon sarnies. Get down the Market for the full experience!)
Glorious glamorous amaryllis belladonna at Pratleys, boxed;
here's the same open in water at John Austin.
Tulips will be here soon, and Cornish anemones are landing at Pratleys. They tweet each flower as it arrives; the guys like to race NCGM's own feed for who can post first. If you’re on Twitter, Follow both and see who wins.