It seems I have a late summer garden – there’s more colour on show in September than there has been during the rest of the year.
The front garden is currently showing off all its colours – yellows, pinks, peachy dahlias and flashes of reds from the crocosmia, roses and even a few second-flowering geums. I haven’t really planned a late summer garden, but each season I have been adding layers of colour and texture so there’s as much interest throughout the year as possible. It looks like I’ve certainly been attracted to late season plants!
I do love my dahlias, of course, and they’re really hitting their stride at the moment. I’m also really enjoying the echinaceas which are flourishing, the rudbeckias (still small, only sown this year) and the cosmos, which is a great gap filler. I bought a couple of sedums several weeks ago and love to see the bees still busy around these flowers as they deepen in colour each day. These are all being propped up by some of the shrubs and plants which may have finished flowering but are still providing essential structure and mass – the two cotinus, the damask rose, teasels and eryngium for example, whose spiky texture is also providing soft browns and purples.
Some of my front garden plants have had a second wind, most likely due to the very warm summer we’ve had. The geums I’ve already mentioned – these first bloomed in May I think and are still popping out a few flowers! The hot pink salvia is coming out again for another throw, along with the geranium ‘Lace Time’ with its pretty veined pink flowers.
But the stand-out repeat flowerer has to be the rose ‘Lady Marmalade’. I might be wrong, but I think she’s currently in flower for the third time – and still looking beautiful.
It’s lovely, as the summer slips away and the temperature starts to fall, that the hot colours are still warming up the garden. I feel a bit sad about the season changing – I really loved the hot weather – but I can still enjoy the summer blooms. Plus now is the time to collect seed, take cuttings and begin thinking about next year. I know – it’s only September! – but I’m already thinking of what I want to grow and/or sell in the Secret Garden next spring and what I will add to the borders, front and back, to keep building those layers of colour, texture and foliage.
The hit list for next year includes more Stachys byzantina for its gorgeous soft leaves and rich pink flowers; more Verbena bonariensis as it’s so bee-friendly, the usual cosmos, sweet peas and aquilegia, and a plan for some new plants – Sanguisorba (inspired by a recent visit to Cambo’s walled garden) and Cerinthe major (which I loved at Chelsea). I’ll also be sowing some Stipa tenuissima as I want to add some more soft grasses and I just love the texture and movement of this feathery grass.
And that’s just a small selection of the seed packets I currently have spread out across my dining room table! There will be a lull around November/December but between now and next spring there’s a lot of sowing and growing to do. If you want me, I’ll be in the greenhouse…