The recent dry weather has made for tough growing conditions and combined with hosepipe bans and the holiday season some of the usual flowers that bloom in August may have come to an early end. The strong and well-adapted will have survived, and there is much to enjoy. With the dry weather there’s little mowing to do so let’s hope you can sit back and enjoy the garden.
Hibiscus syriacus. These hardy hibiscuses are tall flowering shrubs that are slow to come into leaf but well worth the wait. Flowering prolifically between August and October, their exotic looks are a delight in the late-summer garden and they require very little attention. Good varieties are ‘Blue Bird’, ‘Woodbridge’ and ‘Red Delight’.
Helianthus (Sunflowers) are the some of the easiest annuals to get children started on gardening and they can make the rest of us smile too. Right now they are in full flower and will have reached their maximum height, which can vary from metres tall down to very dwarf varieties that are suitable for patio pots. Giant sunflowers produce one enormous seed head on a single stem, but branching varieties that can be used for cut flowers are also available. When the flowers have faded leave the seedheads standing for free birdseed.
Clematis Viticella cultivars start to flower late in the season when many of the other large-flowered Clematis are running out of steam. Viticella’s have the great advantage of being resistant to Clematis wilt, and it doesn’t matter whether they’re pruned or not. ‘Minuet’ bears mauve flowers edged in white, ‘Alba Luxurians’ has greeny-white flowers and ‘Madame Julia Correvon’ bears wine-red star-shaped flowers with yellow anthers. It is a fully-hardy compact variety suitable for growing in a pot.
Spring is finally on its way and March is the perfect time to plant shrubs, roses and climbers, both pot-grown and bare-rooted.
The Magnolia Stellata is one of the smallest Magnolias, growing slowly to the size of a shrub and needing no special conditions, so is suitable for most gardens. It puts on a fantastic show of large, white or pink lightly-scented flowers in early spring before its leaves open.
Other old faithfuls flowering at this time of year are Forsythias with their abundance of spiky yellow flowers, and Camellias, spectacular evergreens with glossy foliage with blooms in every shade of pink, red and white. Once it has finished flowering the attractive glossy foliage is a useful background to other plants that flower later on in the season. If you don’t yet have some of these versatile and low-maintenance shrubs in your garden you might want to plant them.
Thinking ahead to what we’ll be enjoying in early summer, do you have room for another English Rose? We recommend Darcey Bussell – a shrub rose bred by David Austin – compact bushy growth with deep crimson rosettes which flower freely, repeats well and, most importantly, has a delightful fragrance.
And for a reliable climber, there are many varieties of Clematis that will keep going right through summer into early autumn. One of our favourites is Sieboldiana – gorgeous single white flowers which are offset by deep purple stamens. The flowers appear in late spring or summer amongst the semi-evergreen foliage. It grows to about 2.5m so is excellent for a container or to weave up and through a wall shrub.