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Late Summer Flowering Perennials

For the purposes of definition, late summer flowering perennials may be described as plants that reliably produce flowers or that have as their main feature of interest (an architectural silhouette, or attractive seed heads for instance) which can positively contribute to the garden after midsummer’s day on a year in year out basis.

There is little doubt that the climate is changing, for whatever reason, and that seasons are not as distinct. In Britain the autumn season is lengthening and often there is relatively frost free weather up until December. The majority of gardens in Britain look at their finest in the spring and early summer, leaving many gardens looking relatively lacklustre after June has passed. The use of these late summer flowering perennials in the garden should renew inspiration in the months of the year when the shadows are lengthening.

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Agastache Black Adder
Agastache 'Black Adder' is an upright,clump-forming giant hyssop that grows up to 90cm in height. A long lived and hardy perennial, it is a hybrid resulting from a cross between Agastache rugosum and Agastache foeniculum. It is noted for its long summer until first frost floral display of tubular, 2-lipped, deep smoky violet flowers that bloom in showy bottle-brush terminal spikes. Flowers appearing many-flowered whorls which are densely packed to form the flower spikes,from nearly black buds. The aromatic anise/licorice scented, lance-shaped to ovate leaves are blue green. Flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies and yet this plant defies rabbits, deer, slugs and virtually all sucking pests.
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Anemone x hybrida Andrea AtkinsonAnemone x hybrida 'Andrea Atkinson' is rated one of the top ‘Japanese Anemone’, or ‘Windflower’ varieties. It flowers for up to two months during the later part of summer and into autumn, and is both robust in stature and very hardy, coming through in the last few tough winters without damage. The flowers are pure white with clotted cream centres, mostlysingle but occasionally semi-double in form, and slightly larger than those of the more common Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert'.
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Anemone x hybrida WhirlwindAmong the most beautiful of all ‘Japanese Anemone’ or ‘Windflowers’, Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind’ lives up to its name with petals that look ruffled, semi-double and quite large. These white flowers fill the late summer and autumn landscape with fresh, much-needed colour, and are superb for cutting. The flowers are daisy-shaped, with several layers of white petals, the petal edges ruffed and surrounding a bright yellow centre tinged with green. The flower stems reach up to 90cm tall. Very long-lasting on sturdy stems, they are a mainstay of the autumn scene.

Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind’ is a particularly free-flowering variety, thanks to its branching habit. Mature plants will fill in the available space, often spreading wider than the 60-90cm normally expected. Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind’ is a perennial for cool conditions tolerates even quite wet conditions, and prefers a part shaded position. It is left alone by rabbits and even deer, and attracts the last butterflies of the season to its bright flowers.
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Anthemis tinctoria Mrs E.C BuxtonThis is a lovely free-flowering hardy perennial,with masses of deep primrose daisy-like flowers during the summer and autumn.The flowers are a lovely soft creamy yellow and easily blend in with other colours in a mixed border. Ideally, give it free draining soil in a sunny spot.If it does get untidy just cut it back and feed and water well to trigger another batch of fresh foliage and flowers. Flowers up to 45cm tall.

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Aster frikartii Monch (AGM)Aster frikartii ‘Monch’ is probably one of the top ten border plants, this traditional lavender-blue aster offers several advantages over other Michaelmas Daisies. It has a longer flowering season,beginning earlier, in mid-summer, and continuing into autumn. It doesn't really need staking, and is mildew-resistant. It is also exceptionally free flowering,with an attractive colour that is easy to place as it associates well with so many summer and autumn flowers. Asters are best grown in a sunny or partially shaded position with fertile, well-drained soil. It requires adequate moisture throughout summer. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its Award of Garden Merit. Click the image to find out more or buy online.
Aster Little Carlow (AGM)Aster 'Little Carlow' is probably the most fashionable Michaelmas Daisy of the moment, and rightly so. This is a hybrid between Aster cordifolius and A. novi-belgii. It has single flowers with lilac-blue petals and yellow centres, which appear on sturdy stems in late September. It is a healthy plant which forms a good, dense clump of dark green leaves and grows to 90cm (3ft) or more. Click the image to find out more or buy online.
Aster pyrenaeus LutetiaAster pyrenaeus ‘Lutetia’ is an easy to grow ‘Michaelmas Daisy’ which has graceful wiry stems which are covered in pale lilac blue daisies for many, many weeks in late summer and autumn. This is a low-growing variety that is ideal for use at the front of the border or along the edge of a path. It thrives in any well drained and sunny position. Clumps benefit from regular division to keep them healthy and vigorous. Aster pyrenaeus ‘Lutetia’ is great for adding late season colour to the front of the herbaceous border. Click the image to find out more or buy online.
Calamintha nepeta Blue CloudCalamintha nepeta ‘Blue Cloud’ is a low-growing perennial selection with a very long display of airy pale blue flowers which appear from mid-summer and last until the first frost. Calamintha nepeta ‘Blue Cloud’ is a lovely herbaceous perennial for edging a border or growing along a pathway and perfect also in pots and containers. Flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies. Foliage has a delightful minty fragrance. Easy, reliable and very pest resistant, this does not spread around like regular mint. Clumps may be easily divided in early spring. Calamintha nepeta ‘Blue Cloud’ will grow well on most soils, both dry and moist. Click the image to find out more or buy online.
Cirsium rivulare AtropurpureumAlthough Cirsium rivulare is related to the garden thistles that we gardeners strive so hard to get rid of, Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’is a tall perennial, a statuesque plant that is perfect for the herbaceous border. It produces elegant, long, leafless stems, each topped with a huge magenta-pink thistle head. Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’ is a useful plant for the back of the border but can also be planted at the front as an accent plant, because other plants can be viewed through its stems. Plant Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’in any fertile, well-drained, soil in full sun. Height up to 90cm. Click the image to find out more or buy online.
Coreopsis Rum PunchCoreopsis‘Rum Punch’ is a lovely new hybrid in an unusual shade which looks as if it will have a place both in containers and borders. The fine, dark green, thread-like foliage is topped by a very long succession of single flowers in an unusual shade of watermelon. An unusual feature is that the colour does change as the flowers and plant age, which makes this plant so much more interesting. Coreopsis ‘Rum Punch’ needs plenty of sunshine, adequate moisture during the summer but good drainage in winter. Click the image to find out more or buy online.
Cosmos atrosanguineus ChocamochaCosmos atrosanguineus was known as Bidens atrosanguinea and was comparatively unknown until a few years ago. This Mexican perennial is now a very fashionable late summer highlight, as much for its scent of vanilla and hot chocolate as for the dusky brownish-red blooms. As with most cosmos varieties, the blooms resemble small single dahlias, and its culture is similar too, as it has a tuber which, in mild gardens, can be planted at least 15cm(6in) deep and left in the ground with winter protection, or is more usually lifted in autumn for drying and storage. Cosmos atrosanguineus ‘Chocamocha’ is a new variety which has the same delightful fragrance but a rather shorter and more compact habit. Height up to 60cm. Click the image to find out more or buy online.
Crocosmia Emily McKenzieCrocosmias, commonly called Montbretia, are corms which form dense clumps of upright sword-shaped foliage. In mid-summer this makes a good background for the sprays of bright, usually orange flowers,carried in branched spikes. It is ideal for growing in swathes through the herbaceous border and the flowers are excellent for cutting. In very cold areas, the plants need a sheltered site and the bulbs should be lifted and stored over winter. The compact variety Crocosmia ‘Emily McKenzie’ flowers in late summer, its large, bright, slightly burnt orange flowers having a mahogany throat. The sword like foliage in this variety is olive green. 50cm tall. Click the image to find out more or buy online.
Crocosmia Gerbe d’OrThe original Montbretia was bred by the French plant breeder Lemoine who was best known for his Lilac and Peony hybrids. From1880 onwards, Crocosmias or Montbretias as they were then known, filled the gardens of Victorian and Edwardian Britain. From it were bred short, grassy-leaved forms, including the dark-leaved Crocosmia `Solfatare' (now Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora `Solfatare'), which appeared in literature before 1897. This plant thrives in frost-sheltered western areas, but is not truly hardy and needs plenty of moisture. It is not a vigorous garden plant, despite its Award of Garden Merit. Crocosmia ‘Gerbe d’Or’ on the other hand, has very similar attributes, dark olive green foliage and deep apricot flowers, but is a much more enduring and hardy variety in the garden. 60cm tall. Click the image to find out more or buy online.
Eucomis bicolor (AGM)Eucomis bicolor is commonly called 'Pineapple Lily' because the flowers resemble a pineapple. This species boasts maroon-speckled stems and green flowers with maroon margins.The flowers occur on thick, solitary stalks bearing bottle-brush-like wands of tightly-clung flowers, which are crowned by tufts of green bracts.As the common name implies, these unusual and magnificent inflorescences are reminiscent of pineapples. Plant them in sheltered sunny beds or against a warm wall to protect them against the worst weather. This species is perhaps the easiest and hardiest to grow, and always attracts attention when its curious and long-lasting flower spikes appear in July and August. It can also be very successfully grown as a handsome container plant for that exotic look on the patio. Click the image to find out more or buy online.
Euryops chrysanthemoides 'Sonnenschein'Euryops chrysanthemoides 'Sonnenschein' is a tender, vigorous, bushy evergreen sub-shrub with upright shoots, pinnately-dissected, pale green leaves and bright yellow daisy flowers on long stalks from early summer to mid-autumn. On free draining soils in our milder areas this beautiful plant may well survive an indeed thrive without intervention, but always best to take a few cuttings just in case. Click the image to find out more or buy online.
Gaura lindheimeri Karalee WhiteGaura lindheimeri ‘Karalee White’ is a compact variety that is noted for its small upright habit, free branching, long flowering period and purest white flowers. It is a vase-shaped perennial that grows to 45-60cmtall. Four-petaled white flowers hover in wand-like panicles above the foliage and bloom almost continuously from late spring to autumn, often until the first frost. Flowers open a few at a time, and dance in the wind like butterflies. The narrow lance-shaped leaves are medium green. Click the image to find out more or buy online.
Gaura lindheimeri RosyjaneGaura lindheimeri ‘Rosyjane’is the very first bicoloured gaura and one whose unique colouring is captivating gardeners. Each pure white petal has a cerise-pink,picotee edge, creating flowers with a distinctive two-tone effect. Emerging from slender, rich pink buds, their enchanting colouring means they mix very easily with pink, white and purple flowering perennials. It was spotted at Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants down the road in Hampshire and named for Rosy Hardy famous for her Gold Medal winning exhibits at RHS shows around the country. At 75cm tall ‘Rosyjane' is taller than many recent varieties, some of which are rather dumpy and characterless, so it retains an appealing airy elegance. Use ether in large containers, or in sunny well drained border where it will come back year after year. Click the image to find out more or buy online.
Helenium Indianersommer ( Indian Summer)Helenium 'Indianersommer' ('Indian Summer') is a medium-sized perennial producing striking brick orange red flowers with dark brown centres all through summer. It works very well in a hot-themed border, and is an ideal choice for attracting butterflies and bees into the garden.Plant in full sun, in a moist but preferably well drained soil. Height to 70cm. Click the image to find out more or buy online.
Leucanthemum x superbum Aglaia (AGM)Introduced from North America in the early 1900s these familiar white (or pale yellow) Shasta daisies come in a range of heights, as single or double flowers, and with simple or frilly petals. All can be relied on to flower from late June through to September -most will re-bloom happily if cut back after flowering.Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Aglaia’ is a lovely clump forming perennial. Very frilly white daisy-like flowers with yellow centres from early summer to autumn. An excellent cut flower. Plant in any reasonably fertile soil, well-drained in sun or part-shade. Approx. 60cm tall so ideal for front/middle of border. Click the image to find out more or buy online.
Leucanthemum x superbum Thomas KillinLeucanthemum x superbum ‘Thomas Killin’ (T.E. Killin) is a Shasta Daisy which features beautiful extra large single ice-white daisy flowers with pale yellow eyes at the ends of the stems from early to late summer. The serrated narrow leaves remain dark green in colour throughout the season. Shasta Daisies were introduced from North America in the early 1900s these familiar white (or pale yellow) perennials come in a range of heights, as single or double flowers, and with simple or frilly petals. All can be relied on to flower from late June through to September - most will re-bloom happily if cut back after flowering. Click the image to find out more or buy online.
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