Avoid the garden doldrums as summer begins to fade by planting late-summer flowering plants in May. They’ll continue to flower and burst with colour until the first frosts, and provide insects with nectar and pollen. It’s always a wise move to grow a few extra plants in pots too so that you can slot them in should any gaps appear in your planting schemes.
Perennials that peak in late summer are numerous. Shrubs, climbers, annuals, exotics and tender perennial patio plants are all likely to stay in flower right up until October if properly tended to. Ornamental grasses will likewise lift a border tremendously.
Check out our Gardening section once you’ve given our planting in May for late-summer colour picks the once-over.
Penstemons add instant late-summer colour to your herbaceous border. Their short stems weighted with beautiful large bell-shaped flowers in purples, pinks and blues flower for ages and resemble those of the Foxglove. They’re drought tolerant, pretty hardy, and bees think Penstemons are the bee’s knees because of their long-flowering season. Best plant them in groups of three or five for maximum impact. Most border penstemons will continue to flower right up until the first frosts but it’s still advisable to take cuttings as a back up that you can then overwinter.
Verbena bonariensis has made a bit of a comeback recently. Their flattened, lavender-purple flowers bloom from July and these rather tall perennials reach their peak in late summer, even continuing well into autumn, and always bringing a lovely swaying effect to the back of borders. A single plant can easily get lost in those crowded late-summer borders so it’s best to mass these plants together for a burst of beautiful standout colour.
With their characteristic conical-shaped flower heads that make a showy display in late summer, Hydrangea paniculata are nevertheless extremely refined looking. Their vibrant autumn foliage extends well into October making them a real late-summer showstopper. They also fare particularly well in those cold north-facing spots. There are plenty to choose from, like the 'Kyushu' - an upright shrub with slightly glossy ovate leaves whose slender, conical-shaped creamy-white flowers appear from late summer until mid autumn.
Crocosmias are spreading plants and late summer sees their arching stems tipped with fanfares of red, yellow and orange trumpet flowers. They flower for several months and look great as part of a creative border design. Their upright foliage adds height and structure to planting schemes from late spring - even before any flowers have appeared.
This garlic-scented perennial has slender grey-green foliage and soft lilac flowers. Midsummer is when you’ll see the first signs of flowering life and it's from here that Tulbaghia slowly begin to gather momentum, reaching their peak in August. Tulbaghia violacea is the hardiest of the family, successfully growing over winter in well-drained sheltered spots. They make interesting container plants and create a gorgeous grassy effect in borders.