Planting for late summer colour in the garden

Posted on 15th Sep, 2017

Garden ideas for late summer colour.

The key to colour in the garden is to use plants that create a succession of interest throughout the seasons.  Many gardens are past their best at this time of year, so it is important, even when landscaping the smallest of outdoor spaces to include garden plants that will transition into autumn.  As garden designers, we can help achieve this by including plants that produce fruit or berries in ideas for a new garden, such as Rosehips and Crabapple.  Or, if space permits, a late summer border where the hot reds and oranges of late summer provide a last dash of vivid flower colour before the autumn leaves begin to turn. 

A late summer border will give your garden an extra dimension of colour which lasts long into autumn, where the intensity of red, orange and yellow might not be to everyone’s taste, the effect lasts a few weeks and can be stunning.  The addition of late flowering plants to a scheme also has the benefit of continuing the valuable source of nectar for wildlife in the garden.

What to choose? The potential list is endless, and some favourites on the Gardenmakers planting palette are Geraniums, Persicarias and Salvias.  If the dead flower heads are cut back after first flowering, the magenta coloured Geranium ‘Patricia’ shown here will repeat flower until first frosts.  Similarly, the long flowering Geranium ‘Rozanne’ (or ‘Jolly Bee’) is a particularly strong plant, maintaining its intense blue flowers until late November, if weather permits. 

This year, despite the vaguaries of our summer, Persicaria ‘Blackfield’ and Persicaria ‘Firetail’ have been flowering since early July, and still looking good in mid September.  Planted together with ornamental grasses, such as Calamagrostis ‘Overdam’, this is a robust plant for the larger border as it needs space to spread out.  That said, the mass of delicate slender flower heads are a real treat as they glow in the evening light.


Salvia ‘Smouldering Torches’ and Salvia ‘Amistad’ are two new introductions to my garden this year and in their different ways, they have earned their places!  The soft lilac Salvia ‘Smouldering Torches’ is planted through the borders to link the taller ‘star’ plants such as Rudbeckias and Sanguisorba, making a good combination with Geranium ‘Patricia’. Whereas, Salvia ‘Amistad’ is a star plant on its own.  Reaching over 1m in height, the dark purple, almost black flowers of this Salvia add a dramatic intense colour to the border.  It combines well with Fuschia magellanica and looks at home at the base of palm tree, Trachycarpus fortunei for a more exotic effect.  Again, the structure of this plant lasts well into autumn.

The egg yolk yellow of Rudbeckia ‘Henry Eilers’ flowers ( below) provide an accent in the border.

 Now is a great time to start planning for changes in your garden.  With autumn approaching, this is the best time of year to plant gardens, or if you are looking for a complete garden design, get in touch with us to help plan for late summer colour next summer. 

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