Gone are the gentle soft pastels of roses, peonies and wisteria of mid summer as the temperature rises, the smoke of endless BBQ’s lifts into the air and we stretch out the sun loungers to catch the high summer rays, August pulls us into the vibrant colours of high summer.
This is the time of year in a British garden when vibrant strong colour looks at thier best in the garden and there are a range of brilliant herbaceous perennials which foot the bill perfectly.
Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’: a clump forming perennial that quickly increase, it will tolerate most soils apart from heavy clay and being water logged and it can be planted in sun or part shade. It has bold upright swords of mid green foliage and tall flower stems of neat bell like flowers in eye popping red. It adds a dramatic blast of colour. 1-1.2m high and flowering from July to September.
Helenium ‘Morerheim Beauty’: A prairie plant from central USA, liking moist soils, an upright clump forming perennial. Which packs a big punch with it’s rust coloured daisy flowers with yellow buttoned stamens and long flowering season. Full sun, 90cm-1m high July-October.
Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’: ‘The sun flower’ another great prairie plant from the mid USA to the south, coping well with chalky soils and drier conditions than Helenium. Can make great sweeps of plants with spreading rhizomes for the big boarder with a big impact. Flowers large lemon daisy heads, with darker central stems. Full sun, 1.5m high and flowering August to October and beyond.
Kniphofia ‘Nancy’s Red’: A brilliant small ‘red hot poker’ for the front of the boarder, With clumps of thin sword leaves and flame red flower spikes held above, that push the vibrant colours of high summer through to late summer and the autumn with a long flowering season. Full sun. 50cm high, flowering from July to October.
Salvia x jamensis ‘Hot lips’: Almost 3 plants in one, you get a lot of wow with this perennial. A clump forming bushy habit with small trumpet like flowers born up the flower stems. Flowering in June it is brilliant cherry red by July-August it hits it’s ‘hot lips’ best with a red upper lip and a white bottom one, by September into October as the day light hours shorten it turns to striking white. This chameleon of salvia’s deserves a place in any summer planting. Full sun, well drained soil. 90-1m high.
Rudbeckia fulgida var. ‘sullivatii Goldstrum’: A north american beauty from USA/Mexico. ‘Black Eyed Susan’ clumps of erect stems of butter yellow daises with a black button of stems. Grows well in humus rich soils in full sun. Flowering from July to the first frosts, some times till mid November, it’s ‘marathon’ flowering season makes it an essential for the high summer boarder. 70-90cm high.
Ligularia ‘Britt Marie Crawford’: Dramatic round leaves form clumps of purple foliage, with tall flower spikes of daisy flowers in orange-yellow. A must for a shady moist to boggy planting spot giving a splash of late summer colour. 1.50m high, flowering August -September.
Ligularia ‘The Rocket’: Smaller clumps of round mid green leaves, with towering near black stems with masses of small brilliant yellow flowers that form a dense flower spike, makes a sweep of this perennial a highlight of the shady bog garden. Humus rich damp soil. 1.80m high, flowering July-August and into September.
These vivid herbaceous perennials are at their best when planted in a mixed boarder with good strong foliage textures from shrubs, other herbaceous plants and grasses and add that high note of colour that the strong light of high to late summer can take.
So as you enjoy the summer heat, spot those areas of the garden that are looking a little drab as we hit the summer days of August and decide where a splash of colour can lift the spirit.
If you need help replanning a flower boarder to give it a high summer note, then I know a woman who can help. Give me a ring, Tel:01273 470753. To get planning and planting early this autumn ready for next years high summer colour drama.