Why is your garden bare, dry and jaded? Here's some tips to perk up your plot in July and August
As much as gardeners tend to love summer (because they can spend all those luscious daylight hours outdoors), the time is approaching when garden beauty starts to dwindle.
Many spaces begin to look barren, with dry soils and parched plants without much in the way of colour. What can you do this month to perk up your plot?
Where's the water this month? It's been so dry and hot that the water table is depleted.
The main feature of the moment, weather-wise, is the water table
, which is low. The garden naturally tends to look a bit dry and sleepy during a transition period between perennials that flower early
and those preparing to flower late.
One way to minimise this is to cut back everything before this happens in order to encourage more flowers. If you do this now you should be rewarded with extra blooms in August. There are wonderful plants, however, that shine during late July and August and its well worth putting some in place. Gardeners are very good at planning ahead, and these flowering plants will give you a boost this year and be ready for multiple action thereafter.
Hardy geraniums are great perennials that can be encouraged to flower further into the season by trimming back in July.
These are sun-loving drought-resistant plants that are rising to their peak, even in the dry soils. Once they are in bloom, these beauties will keep on giving you summer joy right through until the autumn. Given the right sort of care, these will bulk up each year and should prove to be a long-term investment.
Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna', the Balkan clary, is a great, drought-tolerant plant that keeps flowering all summer if you continue to deadhead.
Penstemon 'Garnet' is a great perennial for providing mid to late summer flowers. It needs a winter mulch in order to keep it bulking up. Leave the foliage during winter for protection.
If you like exuberant colour, look no further than Dahlias
, which come in all shades of extravagance and styles. They will perform brilliantly during shortening days and stay until the first frosts. Then the tubers should be lifted and stored, so they are not entirely maintenance-free.
Dahlias are a greatly reliable flowering plant that give you a burst of colour in July, August, September and beyond.
There are succulents such as Sedum
which store water in their leaves and form their flowers during August. These are loved by bees, butterflies and other insects and deserve a space in every garden. Dry weather and sunshine is a Sedum's friend.
Sedum 'Purple Emperor' has interesting red foliage and pinky red flowers which are loved by insects.
Silvery or hairy foliage
Anything with silver leaves should do will in a dry garden. Foliage with soft, downy hairs is also well designed to resist drought. The aromatic silvery foliage of Perovskia (Russian sage)
, for example, is a particularly gorgeous plant. It produces small, tubular blue flowers in late August onwards and looks marvellous in a drift.
Perovskia 'Blue Steel' is a charming summer flowering perennial which is drought tolerant. Looks great planted in drifts.
The daisy-shaped flowers of Anthemis, Helianthus, Heliopsis, Rudbeckia
are beginning to take centre stage, with their ray petals drawing in the pollinators to their pollen-filled centres. This group of daisy plants never fail to lift the spirits and they should bulk up each year.
Redbeckia 'Goldsturm' is a highly popular plant with daisy-type flowers. It looks like a ray of sunshine in the summer garden.
Then there are Echinaceas
with their curious, reflexed petals in pink, purples, whites, lilacs and even red. The coneflower
is a seductive, beautiful daisy-like plant that flowers at a time of year when there is a gap. It also has herbal qualities, with Echinacea purpurea having been used as a health boost for decades.
This is Echinacea 'Butterfly Kisses'. A beautiful plant with a charming name!
Dont forget Clematis
; particularly the viticella and texensis varieties which start flowering when others have finished. They do need their feet in the shade, so cover the base with mulch, rocks or gravel to help them stay cool.
Many types of Clematis can be encouraged to flower multiple times during the summer. These are wonderful climbers that can also be used to screen walls and fences.
Buddleja and more
There are plenty more garden delights such as Buddleja
and Agastache, filling the borders with colour and nectar too.
Buddleja FREE PETITE TUTTI FRUITTI is a compact form of Buddleja that produces the most wonderful mauve-pink flowers. It grows to only around 60cms tall.
Finally, dont overlook ornamental grasses
which are just beginning to shine. These reach a peak in late summer and early autumn, plugging gaps and being equally awesome in their own right. Plant the larger grasses as specimens and the smaller in drifts youll never regret inviting grasses to the summer party!
Ornamental grasses mix really well with perennials and they start to shine when many other plants are just finishing.
Perfect Plants Ltd is an on-line supplier of garden plants, house plants, garden equipment, furniture and gifts for all seasons www.perfectplants.co.uk