When late summer arrives, far too many landscapes look a bit tired, tatty and worn out.
By adding some very special late blooming perennials, you can make an enormous difference to the whole look and feel of your late summer garden.
Perennials that bloom at this time of year are like a breath of fresh air.
When so many other garden plants are on their way out, these perennials will look good while tolerating intense late summer heat and drought and occasional heavy rainfalls.
At the very top of my list of favourites are the rudbeckias.
Perhaps one of the finest of all the perennial rudbeckias is the truly hardy variety, R. Goldstrum. Growing about two feet high with deep golden petals surrounding a dark brown button, it just keeps pouring out the colour well into November – enjoy at least two months of colour.
Two new more compact varieties called, R. City Garden and R. Gold Star, will be coming out next year.
Echinacea has been sold more as a herb because of its healing properties, but it also has exquisite flowers. Echinacea purpurea is the herbal variety, but pink Echinacea Magnum and the white flowering White Swan are classy looking plants that add a unique quality to summer gardens. This year brings with it many new shorter and more vigorous varieties like Pow Wow, Wild Berry, Pink Double Delight and the rich orangey yellow tones of Summer Sun.
In shady spots or in full sun, perhaps the most elegant of all the late summer perennials are the Japanese anemones. Dwarf or tall, white, pink or dusty rose, these plants are a definite hit at this time of year.
For some early fall tones, add a bit of fire to your flower beds with crocosmias. For years they were called montebretia and sold as tiny bulbs, but today they are usually sold in “bud and bloom” as perennials. Crocosmias need a somewhat sheltered spot, especially if we have another winter like last year, and very well drained soil. Crocosmia Lucifer is an exceptional scarlet red variety from Blooms in England, but don’t ignore Solfatare, with its bronze leaves and pure gold flowers, as well as the speckled, brilliant orange Emily McKenzie or shorter Little Redhead.
Heleniums have not exactly set the world on fire the past few years, but they produce magnificent fall colours, very similar to rudbeckias. Take a look at the Blooms’ introduction, Mardi Gras.
These are some of my tried-and-true favourites that add fresh new life to tired summer gardens.
Brian Minter is a master gardener who operates Minter Gardens in Chilliwack.