Easy summer flowers that will bloom and bloom and bloom….
Hydrangeas bring an old-world romance to the summer garden, flowering freely into autumn. They’re ideal for shadier parts of the garden but, with watering, they tolerate sun too. Dwarf varieties make spectacular container plants. While deciduous, hydrangeas make a beautiful flowering hedge. Their opulent flower heads are especially beautiful in autumn as their colours mellow. The more mature the blooms are before you pick them, the longer they’ll last in the vase.
TIP: The best way to dry hydrangeas for winter decoration is to let them dry on the bush.
Blue flowers planted liberally in a small garden will make it appear more spacious. In a ‘hot’ coloured flower garden, blue or purple flowers add depth and accentuate the details of yellow and orange flowers. Favourites among the summer blues, asters, lavenders, and salvias reign supreme in late summer. Modern hybrid ‘So Cool’ Salvias come in various shades of blue.
The stonecrops (Sedum varieties) are long flowering succulents, ideal for hot dry places but which also grow in any average garden soil. Old favourite Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is loved for its chunky upright stems with fleshy horizontal leaves, which in summer are topped with bold flat flower discs. Opening pink they age to deep rustic red. Modern breeding has delivered excellent compact sedums.
Penstemon flowers are loaded with sweet nectar that’s easily found by bees, which are drawn to the sheer mass of colour created by these free-flowering perennials with multiple flower spikes. Modern penstemon varieties, such as ‘Cha Cha’ and ‘Taffy’, belie their glamorous looks with incredible toughness. For a romantic effect, plant penstemons in bold clumps with oldfashioned roses or other perennials, such as Echinacea, Scabiosa and grasses.
Flower Carpet® roses are an excellent choice for gardeners who want lots of flowers without worrying about disease control or fussy pruning. They can flower for up to eight months of the year and bounce back with fresh spring growth when chopped back with the hedge trimmers in winter. Read more on page 8.
Dahlias, with their funky forms and bright vibrant colours rank among the most generous flowering plants in the garden. They are grown from tubers planted in spring, and also cuttings taken from healthy tuber-grown ‘mother plants’ and sold as fresh green plants in summer. Dwarf bedding dahlias, grown from seed, offer compact colour for summer pots or garden margins. Stake to protect tall varieties from wind. Watch out for slugs, snails and earwigs.
TIP: To promote bushy plants with more flower buds, snip out the top central flower bud.
Sun-loving daisies cope with extremes of wind, heat and drought, and difficult soils. Today’s compact and extremely free flowering marguerite daisies (Argyranthemum) are less than half the height of older forms but just as easy to grow. Bright blue kingfisher daisies (Felicia) and tough little Brachyscome daisies are low mounding perennials for pots or borders. The African daisies, Arctotis, Osteospermum and Gazania are the ultimate groundcover daisies. Sunny golden yellow Coreopsis, Heliopsis, and Helianthus are lovely for picking.
North American Cone flowers, Echinacea and Rudbeckia, stand out in late summer and autumn and their darkened seed heads add character in winter. Pollinators love them and they make excellent vase flowers. Plant in good well drained soil with compost, but water during dry spells only. These drought tolerant perennials will rot if overwatered.
It’s time to sow or plant seedlings of those generous summer annuals that colour the garden right though the hotter months. Zinnias, cosmos, Californian poppies, marigolds and petunias, sown or transplanted now will perform beautifully throughout the hotter months.
DESIGN TIP: Repeat clumps of the same plant throughout the garden to create a pleasing rhythm.
Hydrangeas Schneeball and Red Dawn
Sedum Mr Goodbud
Penstemon Cha Cha Cherry
Flower Carpet Rose border
Dahlia Dalaya Shiva
Plant annuals of marigolds and zinnias