Although we personally may not have enjoyed the rain through July and August it has kept our gardens looking amazingly fresh, and many plants have put on a huge amount of growth and are flowering for far longer than usual.
Early summer flowering plants that are still looking great having been cut back hard in June and July include Nepeta (catmint), salvias and geraniums; although it looks harsh at the time, cutting plants back hard after their first flush of flower pays dividends at this time of year. In the farmhouse garden Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker's Low’ (left) is looking as fresh as it did in May and is flowering fully for a second time this year.
The same principle can be applied to roses; if you dead-head them hard after their first flush of flower in late June they will give a great second flush.
The Modern Rose Garden at Hyde Hall has many roses bursting with colour such as ‘Lichfield Angel’ (left) with its soft, creamy white flowers.
Many plants will need protection when the first frosts arrive but will be smothered with an abundance of flowers until then. A great example are our dahlias which are providing a great splash of colour in our borders.
Varieties to look out for include Dahlia ‘Lismore Robin’ in the farmhouse garden with its bright orangey/red flowers, and ‘Black Monarch’ with its strikingly large and dark purple flowers on the herbaceous border. Many tender plants also provide great foliage colour and excellent varieties looking stunning at the moment are Iresine lindenii (above) with its deep purple foliage and the castor oil plant (Ricinus) with its large palmate leaves.
Late summer flowering perennials are always worth adding to a planting scheme and varieties to look out for include Asters such as A. novae-angliae ‘Andenken an Alma Pötschke’ (left) with its bright, cerise pink flowers on the herbaceous border or Leucanthemella serotina with its tall stems that bear white flowers. In a good planting scheme it is also always worth including plants that will flower for a long period of time to give you continuity, and great examples include Verbena bonariensis with its tall stems of purple flowers and Salvia uliginosa with its spreading, wavy stems of bright blue flowers.
Late summer is also a great time to enjoy the structure and texture of grasses in a planting; a particular favourite of mine is Calamagrostis brachytricha (left) which produces soft, silvery, pointed plumes which look amazing at this time of year with drops of dew on them first thing in the morning, as well as Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ with its soft silvery blue foliage and fine fluffy flower heads.
So, although autumn is in the air, there is still a huge amount of vibrant colour to enjoy in the garden.