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The magnificent displays in our spring and early summer gardens often come to an abrupt end in late summer as earlier blooms fade.  This is a great shame, especially as this is a period when we often most frequent our cherished plots to dine alfresco, soak up some rays or just to take a well earned rest from the hustle and bustle of life. You will however be pleased to be informed that there is absolutely no need for this absence of colour as there are many floral options to grace our gardens at this time.  It is important that we all mix into our borders an assortment of these useful plants so the garden continues to provide an impressive display throughout our summers which, with our changing climate, can extend well into October.

Annuals such a Sunflowers and Zinnias provide late colour, and for a shadier spot try the Tobacco plants.  Some of the annuals will climb to provide a vertical display such as the glorious Sweet Peas and Morning Glory.

More permanent climbing plants that provide beauty at this time of year are the Honeysuckles, late flowering Clematis such as the Viticellas and Campsis (The Trumpet Creeper).

Summer flowering Heathers are excellent in the gardens of those of you who have an acid soil.  Other shrubs for this time include Abelias, Hardy Fuchsias, Hydrangeas, Myrtles, Yuccas, Hebes, Caryopteris, Ceratostigma, Hibiscus Syriacus, Perovskia and the unusually late flowering Ceanothus Autumnal Blue.

Hydrangea Arborescens

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Hibiscus Syriacus Woodbridge

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Hibiscus Syriacus Blue Bird

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Bulbs such as Galtonia, Lilies, Crinum and the tender exotic Cannas flower now.  Of course we should never forget to plant tubers of the jewels of the late summer borders the Dahlias which come in a vast array of hybrids to extend the season.

Dahlia Karma Pink

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Dahlia Gallery Art Deco

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There are also a great selection of delightful perennials that can be used to provide much needed colour.These include Japanese Anemones, some Campanulas, Echinacea (Coneflowers), Hollyhocks, Chelone Obliqua, earlier flowering forms of Chrysanthemums such as Clara Curtis, and Diascias.  Gauras, Penstemons, Phlox Paniculata, Physostegia, Shizostylis ( Kaffir Lily) and Sedums add interest.  Asters (Michaelmas Daisies) are a must as well as Crocosmias, Aconitum (Monkshood), Tradescantias, the fashionable Verbena Bonariensis, Agapanthus, Gentians, Platycodon (Balloon Flower), Salvias, Heleniums, Helianthus, Hemoracallis (Day Lily), Kniphofia (Red Hot Pokers), Rudbeckias, and Solidago (Golden Rod) which are all impressive at this time of year.  As are the continuing flowers of the Alstroemerias and Coreopsis.  For a boggier spot choose the Ligularias and the Filipendulas.

Echinacea Purpurea Magnus

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Penstemon Phoenix Pink

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Phlox Pan. Flame Pink Eye

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Sedum Telephium Karfunkelstein

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Aster Frikartii Monch

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Kniphofia Orange Vanilla Popsicle

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Rudbedkia Fulgida Goldsturm

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Rudbeckia Summerina orange

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Alstroemeria Little Miss Rosalind

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Coreopsis Li’l Bang Daybreak

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Finally, never underestimate the importance of ornamental grasses which provide architectural splendour when they are at their absolute best as we go into late summer and onwards.  These are vital in the prairie style of planting which is so popular in recent times.  If you are still stuck for inspiration use our wonderful Garden For Pleasure Plant Finder to give further ideas along with thousands of pictures and cultural notes. To view many of these plants or similar varieties for sale at click here.

Even just a handful of these suggestions will extend the beauty of your garden into the balmy days and evenings of late summer.

Mark Snelling.