By Ken & Len Lucas
The warm sunny days of summer might be behind us but some plants don’t care about that and some are ready to make their presence felt just because it isn’t summer anymore. We think it’s important to have something to look forward to and not just Christmas.
We used to spend a lot of time going round other people’s gardens especially later on in the year and came across plants that were in full flower. In fact when we started our present garden 11 years ago some of the first plants we bought were very late flowering.
Here are some of them that found their way into our garden because we wanted colour in the borders right into the autumn.
COREOPSIS “BIG BANG RED SHIFT” TICK SEED.
A lovely medium height border perennial, not fussy or demanding. Many Coreopsis are handsome plants and unfortunately, some are short-lived but so far, after several years, this one is still with us.
ALSTROEMERIA “PRINCESS ISABELLA”
This is a dwarf Alstroemeria and one of a group called the Princess Lilies available in a wide range of colours and all are worth growing. We treat them all the same. After the first flush of flowers, we cut them to the ground and they will flower again right into the autumn. These are some of the finest flowering plants you can buy but they are not cheap at about £10 a pot.
RUDBECKIA DEAMII “GOLDSTURM” BLACK-EYED SUSAN.
An absolute cracker. The group in our garden is some ten years old and as good as ever. Give it a place near the middle of a border where you can see it from your house and you won’t regret it.
ECHINACEA PURPUREA THE PURPLE CONE FLOWER.
This plant is referred to as a perennial, which it is, but it is short lived and if it gets beyond three years you are doing well. But despite that, a group of these quite tall plants in full flower is a magnificent sight. When our plants are dormant in the winter we will dig them up and separate them to see if we can extend their life.
ANEMONE HUPEHENSIS JAPANESE ANEMONE.
This is the tall pink-flowered form. The white version is also worth growing as are some dwarf pink varieties. They are a classic in giving any garden that cottage garden look. Hardy and reliable, they are a true delight right at the back of the border.
CAMPSIS RADICANS “STROMBOLI” THE TRUMPET VINE.
This is actually a climber and a recent addition to our garden. Very hardy, vigorous but worth it if you have the space and as the name suggests it is named after a volcano because it has red flowers.
HELENIUM “MOERHEIM BEAUTY” SNEEZEWEED.
These statuesque plants are great for the back of the border and will respond well to deadheading if you have the patience. We think this variety is one of the best Heleniums because of its subtle burnt orange and red colours.
ACONITUM CARMICHAELII “ARENDSII” MONKS HOOD.
Blue is not a common colour in the garden and this is one. Quite tall when mature and they will brighten up any corner of your garden. They are also called “Wolf ’s Bane” and for a good reason as they have been used in the past to ward off wolves. It’s the tuberous roots that are poisonous.
TRYCIRTIS FORMOSANA THE TOAD LILY.
This plant featured in our must-have plants article and late-season flowering is one of the reasons. It is not a big plant but holds its own right on the edge of one of our paths and has been a delight all year.
ASTER “PURPLE DOME” MICHAELMAS DAISY.
This is the only Aster we have in our garden because in the past our Asters have suffered from mildew. This one seems to be mildew-free and flowers very late with beautiful purple flowers. The middle of a border will suit it. We are sure that if we re-visited this group of plants again that we could find varieties with better disease resistance.
We have a group of Nerines in one of our borders that could still be in flower right into November. The flowers are large and a bold pink on long stems that come to no harm at all in cold weather. Unusually for us they are bulbs which is not something we normally grow but these are rather special.