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Late summer flowering perennials

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Colour blast - Rudbeckia Goldsturm and Echinacea SunSeekers Pink for late summer colour
Colour blast - Rudbeckia Goldsturm and Echinacea SunSeekers Pink for late summer colour

Pep up borders with flowers until the first frosts

Have your borders run out of steam? It’s only August 1 and there are at least two months of display left – don’t let your garden fade into the background too soon.

The long border in my garden suffers every year. It’s at its peak from early May to the end of June, with Chaenomeles japonica Jet Trail, Rheum palmatum (ornamental rhubarb), foxgloves, sweet rocket, Welsh poppies, early lilies in pots, late tulips, the huge Weigela variegata all in bloom and the freshness of new foliage.

However, the only late summer bloomers are all at one end –  Buddlejas (one purple, one dwarf Buzz in white), bronze fennel, a pink everlasting sweet pea and a Kniphofia (red hot poker).

This year, I decided to do some instant impact gardening. The three tall flared zinc containers were the key –  I ditched their ageing bouquet lilies and placed the pots in gaps at the front of the border, surrounded by grasses, Rodgersia and golden marjoram in flower. They are tall, so stand much higher than the surrounding edging plants, making a statement before they are even planted up.

It’s always worth a trip to your local garden centre at this time of year – it’s a really quiet time for them and they’ll be promoting late summer flowering plants at their peak.

I was able to pick up exactly what I wanted – vibrant Rudbeckia Goldsturm, an old late summer standby with intense yellow petals and a dark brown eye and the newer Echinacea SunSeekers Pink, a compact variety with non-fading pink flowers surrounding an orange-brown centre.

Yes, they clash and aren’t subtle – exactly what I was looking for, to jump out of the sea of ageing late summer green from a distance, especially in the evening.

It may be ‘not the done thing’ to put one of each into the pots but I love the colour clash and the plants are big enough to pull it off. By repeating the effect along the border, the eye travels along to the next ‘punctuation’ point, missing the masses of plain green.

With regular deadheading, Rudbeckia and Echinacea will keep going until the first frosts – well worth the investment. As hardy perennials, they’ll last the winter to do the same next year, or can be transplanted directly into the garden.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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