Manager & Garden Designer
Gemmell’s Garden Centre
In many of gardens June is usually the most spectacular show for shrubs and perennials but in my opinion the late summer garden can be equally as fabulous if you choose the right plants. This year with all of the rain many gardeners are rediscovering how fabulous and low maintenance perennials can be. The range of plants that bloom in August through September can be bold and bright and really punch up a tired looking garden. Here are my top picks (in no particular order) for late summer glory in your garden.
Perennial Hibiscus ‘Luna Series’ Hibiscus moscheutos
If you have ever seen this perennial in bloom in August you probably were stopped dead in your tracks because the blooms on this baby can be 12 inches across. Huge paper flowers come in deep red, light pink with a red eye and white with a red eye. They love full sun and can grow up to four feet tall! A great choice for those who love drama in plants.
Coneflower Echinacea purpurea
This tough, drought tolerant, full sun loving perennial is a must have for all gardeners. The colours are always bright and spectacular in every colour of the rainbow from bright pink, white, yellow, orange to red. They come in long-lasting single or double blooms and are followed by interesting seed heads. Echinacea attracts bees, birds and butterflies to your garden.
Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ Crocosmia
Abundant eye-catching, brilliant flame red, tubular flowers appear in mid- to late-summer atop arching stems. Sword like green leaves add drama to any perennial garden. They are outstanding as cut flowers. I will be honest, they are Zone 5 but worth the chance for brave gardeners every time! Grows in full sun, 2×3 feet by 2×3 feet.
Windflower Japanese Anenome
True fairy flowers with large cupped blossoms of pure white or pink above stems that sway gracefully in the wind. Blooming in September, these perennials are a lovely late summer addition to any garden. They grow best in partial shade but can tolerate full sun, growing three feet tall in mature clumps.
Black Eyed Susan Rudbeckia fulgida
This classic late summer blooming cannot be left off the list. Easy to grow, it truly is one of the most asked for perennials in the fall. Bright yellow blooms with a chocolate brown centre is the best known variety but also look for the Rudbeckia hirta ‘Autumn Colours’ that is bicoloured ranging from gold to orange to bronzy red. Full sun loving and grows two to three feet tall.
There are so many amazing ornamental grasses available now that it is hard to list just one. Any ornamental grass adds movement, height and interesting seed heads to the garden in the fall. They look most interesting when mixed with other tall fall perennials like False Sunflower Helianthus or Helenium as well as Coneflowers and even Asters. I often mix them with shrubs as they have the height and power to stand alongside many shrubs in a mixed border.
Perennials are like the philanthropists of the garden; once planted they give back to us for years. The ability of perennials to produce striking foliage and flowers repeatedly is what makes them so popular amongst gardeners. Unlike annuals, these plants will endure winter weather and return every season without much help from us (aside from a bit of pruning and deadheading).
When selecting perennial plants for your garden, it is important to think not only about how they fit into the overall design but also when they flower to keep your garden blooming right through until fall.
This article was first published in the August issue of Hometown News. For more articles from our August issue, pick up a print copy at a local retailer or read our digital version.