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.