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7 plants to make a rainbow garden in August and September

7 Rainbow plants for a glowing late summer garden

Perhaps, by now, you are assuming that the best part of summer is over. But in fact, sometimes September brings the very best weather, coupled with interesting light. The brightness of hot sunny days in mid-summer makes gardens appear to be washed out because the sun is so high and light travels through the shortest possible path through the atmosphere.  Late summer, however, is often a real feast for the eyes.

Late summer light is enchanting because of the beautiful shadows. The golden month, as it is sometimes known, is very much like the photographers golden hour the time just after sunrise and before sunset that can create magical photo opportunities. In September, the sun is no longer directly overhead. Instead it travels further through the atmosphere and creates longer shadows and more twinkly bits. So, the light levels make for better viewing, great photos, more comfortable outdoor working opportunities and more appreciation for the plants that are giving their best this month.

All the colours of the rainbow

There's a whole rainbow of colour opportunities in September, creating a vibrant celebration of the UK climate. Let's look at some:


Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna'  a hardy, drought-tolerant perennial with gorgeous spires of glowing purple flowers. This is a plant that will keep flowering for months, right up until the first frosts. Just keep dead-heading and you will reap huge rewards in September. Also vibrant in a mauve and purple suit this month are Asters they will soon be looking amazing!  Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna' is a wonderful perennial that will give purple spires of flowers from mid summer right through until October.  Asters - also known as Michaelmas daisies - are just about to burst forth into glorious rainbow colours of mauve, pink and purple.


Agapanthus are the blue stars of the border in September. Their globe flower heads are structurally stunning. These South African lilies have strappy leaves and the flowers stand vertically erect on stiff stems, lasting for many weeks. There are evergreen and deciduous varieties. Buddleja also deserve a mention  there are blue varieties such as 'Nanho Blue' that keep blooming all summer, through to the end of September.

Agapanthus, such as this 'Blue Giant' are looking magnificent right now. There are evergreen and deciduous varieties.


September is so good for ornamental grasses. They do come in green, but some also have flower and seed heads in feathery pink, soft and fluffy cream and even purple. No garden should be without gorgeous grasses!  

There are ornamental grasses for every type of position in the garden. This one is Carex 'Everest' which is evergreen.

Stipa tenuissima 'Pony Tails' is a tactile, fluffy ornamental grass with straw-coloured soft seedheads in late summer.


This time of year is dominated by delightful daisy-shaped flowers such as Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm', also known as the coneflower.  Helenium is another September plant with yellow zing, and the bees love them too. Then, of course, there are sunflowers, Helianthus, which are also part of the Aster family. Not all of them are huge, but they all give a sunny splash of yellow joy.

Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' brings a splash of rainbow yellow to the late summer borders

Everyone loves to see the bright yellow heads of sunflowers in the late summer garden. They lift the spirits and brighten up even the dullest day.


Red roses should still be blooming in September, depending on the variety. But there are perennials such as Crocosmia that also send out a fiery glow during September. Crocosmia 'Zeal Tan' is a particularly vibrant plant, as is the tall and stately 'Lucifer'. Other red plants which look beautiful in September include Achillea, commonly known as yarrow. There are a few red varieties in addition to the more normal yellows and oranges.

Crocosmia 'Zeal Tan' is a fiery red plant that has strappy foliage and vibrant red flowers which appear in late summer.  

Getting the buzz?

Pesky wasps can make a nuisance of themselves in late summer. But you can tempt them to go elsewhere with a wasp trap! September can be the worst month for pesky wasps who are seeking sweet things before the weather cools. You might need a rainbow-coloured wasp trap to help you enjoy your cake in peace. They are so simple to use just pour in some fruit juice or honey mixture, even a piece of jam tart. The wasps enter for their tasty snack and find it impossible to escape. What's more, these glass jars are a thing of beauty and can be hung from tees as a sculptural form.

Aren't these wasp traps rather beautiful? They are so useful in late summer when wasps are at their most pesky! Perfect Plants is an on-line supplier of garden plants and house plants. Also, garden equipment, furniture and gifts.

By Perfect Plants


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