suburban-garden’s plant of the month is the vibrant Bergenia ‘Overture’. More commonly known as ‘elephant’s ears’, due to the shape of its foliage, this plant is really useful at providing all year round ground cover and a splash of throughout winter. Read more at suburban-garden
March’s plant of the month at suburban-garden is the delightfully compact Pulmonaria ‘Opal’. It isn’t a showoff like some pulmonaria varieties nor is it a sprawling thug that self-seeds halfway across the garden. Pulmonaria ‘Opal’ instead produces dainty flowers that light up shade-ridden corners and provides a valuable source of nectar for early pollinators.
Pulmonaria ‘Opal’ or ‘Ocupol’ has small, pale green leaves that are speckled with silver. Pale pink buds emerge in March above the small ovate leaves and these turn into clusters of pale blue flowers. This is a compact, neat plant and can be left to grow without any regular maintenance.
In general pulmonarias are well-suited for clay, chalk or loam soil that is fertile but not waterlogged. ‘Opal’ unlike other pulmonarias is a semi-evergreen perennial and so may lose some leaves during autumn and winter. It also grows at a much slower rate than other types but still forms clusters which many need to be divided every few years.
There are a variety of pulmonarias to choose from ranging from heady reds through to white and blues and some plain foliage types if all those silver spots get a bit too much. However for me, Pulmonaria ‘Opal’ gives that little splash of welcome colour in early spring that’s just right and is simply enchanting.
More information on the plants that I grow and sell can be found at suburban-garden.
September’s plant of the month at suburban-garden is the incredibly versatile Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’.
Our immediate back garden is left in full shade by the afternoon and these bright, white flowerheads on tall, slender stems bobbing about in the breeze have really lifted the area. I’m planning to use these as underplanting once we’ve planted our raised beds with flowering climbers and added in a frame. Find out more about these plants at: suburban-garden
By the time I get to August I’m looking around for plants that’ll add some late summer colour into the garden. Annuals provide a much needed splash of colour but I often miss my spring sowing window and need something that will come back year after year. So I’ve complied my own shortlist of top ten plants that’ll add some colour to your late summer borders:
Anenome ‘Honorine Jobert’(Perfect for shade)
For me this is the perfect plant for brightening up shady places in the garden and especially our immediate borders at the back of the house. This Japanese anemone has been flowering since July and will continue to right into September. ‘Honorine Jobert’ prefers to be planted in cool, shady areas otherwise it is liable to run at a quicker pace than usual. It can also be used a cutting flower.
Geranium oxononium ‘Wageningen’ (Perfect for sun)
Salmon-pink flowers with darker pink veining provide plenty of ground cover above mid-green leaves from June to August. Flowers fade to paler shades as they age. This hardy geranium does scramble but is not as vigorous as some varieties and is not prone to mildew. At first I wasn’t sure of the colour because it is bright but on dull days it really does light up a flowerbed.
Heuchera ‘Caramel’ PVR (Perfect for shade and partial shade)
Heuchera ‘Caramel’ makes this list because of its beautifully sandy, limey and apricot foliage. I love the different shades of leaves that come from just one plant and this is complemented by peachy-red stems and undersides to the leaves. This plant does produce delicate spikes of cream flowers from May to August but it is the range of colours on the foliage that attracts my attention. I find that larger heuchera plants tend to be less susceptible to snail or slug attacks. It is just getting them to a more substantial size that requires patience and watchfulness. This heuchera has been planted with gritty compost and some plant food granules in a planter, in full shade for over a year now and feels like a perfect fit.
Persicaria ‘Indian Summer’ ( Perfect for sun/part shade)
I’m always on the lookout for unusual and intriguing plants and this is certainly one. Persicaria ‘Indian Summer’ came from Cally Gardens and produces small bunches of deep pink flowers from July through to September. However the real gem is the spectacularly blotchy, red leaves that go slightly purple in full sun and turn people’s heads. It is hardy but I cover it with bark chipping or spent crocosmia leaves at the base before winter as the foliage dies back during the winter.
Inula barbata (Perfect for partial shade)
Inula barbata is really easy to grow and will provide fast-growing groundcover. Yellow, finely-petalled daisies flower from July to August above hairy green leaves and stems almost reminding me of a lion’s mane. This plant is good at attracting pollinators but prefers to be in the soil rather than in containers. Just cut this plant back in the spring to promote new growth. This is another plant that can be used for cut flowers.
Crocosmia ‘Emberglow’ (Perfect for sun)
In the early morning light you really get a sense of the richness in colour of Crocosmia ‘Emberglow’. The flowers are predominantly a crimson red colour tinged with orange at the throat just like glowing embers. The flowers also unusually point downwards. ‘Emberglow’ is not as vigourous as ‘Lucifer’ but it does command a substantial prescence in the garden. I think the green sheafs of foliage are a beautiful vibrant green. This variety is suitable for cutting, is really easy to grow even in large pots and is wildlife friendly. The foliage will disappear during the winter but will reappear in the spring.
Sedum populifolium (Perfect for sun)
Beautifully fragrant cream flowers emerge from August to September above fleshy green multi-pointed leaves. Sedum populifolium is a slow-growing, woody plant that loses its leaves in the winter but they will come back in the spring. It is unique and I’m really taken with the texture of the leaves and the rich scent. The flowers just look like a mass of tiny stars. Never seen a plant quite like this before.
Hakonechloa macro ‘Aureola’ (Perfect for sun/part shade)
Grasses are useful sources of green throughout the growing season and more so when like many they are variegated. Halonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ has this beautiful golden green foliage that sweeps down providing the overriding interest. Although very fine flower spikes do appear it is the leaves that command attention. Use this plant as a soft edging to paths or borders or grow in large pots. Really easy to grow. The foliage just needs to be cut back in the spring and a light mulch applied. This plant will die back in the winter.
Phlox paniculata ‘David‘ ( Perfect for sun/part shade)
Phloxes remind me of my childhood garden in summer especially with their dusky summer scents. I’m starting to collect quite a few varieties in my garden now but one of the ones that stands out is Phlox paniculata ‘David’. I planted it last year in partial shade nestled between two shrubs and this year it really has exploded. Abundant heads of pure white flowers have only just opened and should last until September. They do say that phloxes take a year or two to reach their full potential and ours certainly has. The leaves are a glorious bright green and this variety is one of the more mildew resistant types. Good variety for flower arranging and pollinating insects.
Helianthus atrorubens ‘Miss Mellish’ (Perfect for sun)
In our garden Helianthus atrorubens ‘Miss Mellish’ is just about to open into finely quilled, yellow petals. To be fair it copes with dappled shade in the first half of the day, so I’m not surprised that it is late in flowering but it does create an amazing mass of yellow colour. This helianthus is invasive but at a steady pace and I’m happy to keep cutting it back. It can be sunk into the ground in a pot but prefers to grow directly in the ground, preferably somewhere where you don’t mind it being invasive. This plant is perfect for cut flowers and can cope in poor soil conditions.
July’s plant of the month at suburban-garden is Alcea rosea otherwise known as the hollyhock.
I just love the wide array of colours and really love the height they can give to a border. Some have already flowered while others are still waiting to open. These plants are also incredibly bumblebee friendly.
I know they do need some maintenance but a summer’s not the same without them! I’ve found that cutting off rusty leaves and leaving them pretty much to their own devices is much more beneficial for them. They are supposed to be drought-tolerant but when it is really hot I do make sure they are watered well.
What plants really make your summer come alive for you?
suburban-garden’s plant of the month for June is Achillea ‘Moonshine’
For some the brash yellow may be a little too much in certain garden planting schemes but it really helps brighten a corner of the garden that is shrouded in shade during the afternoon. Our achillea has been in the ground for four years now and goes from strength to strength. I love the flat heads of brilliant yellow that rise above mint-green downy leaves from May to September.
I’ve found that this achillea is less susceptible to slugs and if I cut it back after its first flowering, I may encourage a second flowering. This year I may also need to replace it with new plants grown from cuttings if the stems have started to go woody. It is a little extra work but as I couldn’t have a garden without this plant I don’t mind.