Late summer and early autumn is a wonderful time in the garden for many plants which are reaching their splendid peak. The borders are full of floriferous height and magnificent colour.
Here are some fabulous blooms to inspire you to keep the colour extended in your garden right through to the end of September.
Crocosmia, formerly know as Montbretia, is actually native to the grasslands of southern and eastern Africa. And yet, amazingly, Crocosmia grows really well in Scotland, so much so that some people find them invasive after a time! Grown from a corm, it produces sword-like foliage and bright, funnel-shaped, arching blooms in reds, oranges, and yellows which add such an elegant pop of colour in a sunny border.
Leucanthemum × superbum, the Shasta daisy, is a large, flowering, herbaceous perennial with the classic daisy appearance of white petals radiating from a yellow centre. Adding real height to a border, they also make great flowers to cut for vases. They will reliably come back every year, growing in clumps in a sunny spot. They can reach up to 2 metres or more in height and in some spots will need staking.
Verbena bonariensis is known for attracting bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to its purple flowers in late summer. Its tall, thin stems are perfect for adding height to a border. Verbena bonariensis likes to grow in full sun in a moist but well-drained spot and generally will self-seed freely. Although it is a perennial, it is not full hardy and will struggle to survive cold winters so it is often grown as an annual in colder parts of the country.
Dahlias are often grown as part of a late summer planting scheme, as their blooms can last through until the first frosts if regularly deadheaded. Dahlia flowers, which come in a myriad of colours, can range in size from petite 2 inch lollipop-style pompoms to giant 15 inch dinner plate blooms. Many varieties grow a metre and a half tall and some of the taller ones will need staking. You need to find a sunny, sheltered spot for dahlias in fertile, moist but well-drained soil. In autumn, dig up the tubers and overwinter them in a frost-free place like a greenhouse, shed, or garage. They can be planted back in the ground from May onwards once the risk of frost has passed.
Japanese anemones are herbaceous perennials which generally flower from August to October with delicate, saucer shaped petals. Reaching heights of 1.2 metres, they are perfect for the back of a border. Their fibrous roots can spread quickly underground so they need to be kept in check if you do not wish them to take over. They thrive in partial shady areas and like the soil to be consistently moist.
Rudbeckia is another late summer bloomer which brightens up any border with petals ranging in shade from bright yellow to orange-gold, and even flushes of red, bronze, or mahogany. The flowers feature a prominent, dark, raised central disc from which they get their common name, Black Eyed Susans. Rudbeckia will tolerate drought better than soggy feet, so use them in a sunny border where they grow up to 2 metres, depending on the variety. They self-seed prolifically so you will have a continuous supply of plants for free or they can be propagated by division in late autumn or early spring.
Gladioli originate from hot, dry climates so they require good drainage and plenty of sun. For best results, grow in moist, well-drained soil in full sun. Gladioli, grown from corms, grow as tall, spiky stems and the funnel shaped flowers emerge reliably after around 90 days. They span a huge range of colours and make wonderful cut flowers. To prolong their flowering period, try planting in succession, two to three weeks apart. Corms can be dug up to overwinter in a frost free place or mulched to overwinter them in the soil. They are sometimes referred to as Sword Lillies due to their long, pointed leaves.
Great for late Summer colour, Hydrangea macrophylla brings its mophead glamour to the garden! Hydrangeas will thrive in partial sun in soil that is fertile and well-draining as they love moisture, so be sure to keep them well watered. This is a plant which will do well in clay soil.
Learn more about their equally glamorous cousins Hydrangea paniculata.
Stunning Hydrangea paniculatas produce elongated, cone-shaped, white flowers with their blooms often taking on a green or pink tinge at the beginning or end of the season. Best grown in a semi-shaded spot in well-drained soil, Hydrangea paniculatas produce flower buds on new growth, not on the woody stems formed during the previous gardening season, meaning the buds are formed in the spring.
Heleniums bring warm, perennial colour to borders from mid-summer into autumn with their daisy-like flowers and with regular dead-heading they will keep flowering. They perform best when planted in full sun and should be planted in a sheltered position to keep the stems upright, although it is best to support them by staking around the clump in spring. Any flowers that do fall over can be cut for the house. Loved by butterflies and bees, Heleniums are usually avoided by deer and rabbits.
Astilbes are a low maintenance, hardy perennial growing to around 3ft tall, with tall, fluffy plumes atop glossy, fern-like foliage. Flowering from July through to October, Astilbes thrive in damp, shady locations so make great additions to bog gardens and pond sides. The spent flower plumes can be cut back in spring and every three to four years they can be lifted and divided.
Echinacea purpurea, often called a purple coneflower, is part of the daisy family bearing a conical central disk from which florets emerge, often drooping in appearance, atop long stalked stems. They can grow to around one metre high, which adds valuable stature and a vibrant burst of late summer colour to borders. Give them a sunny spot and these tall, clump-forming, rhizomatous perennials, loved by bees and butterflies, will bring joy to the border. Echinacea makes great cut flowers for the house and, just like deadheading, cutting for vases will promote new flowers on the plant.