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How can I love my late summer garden?

It's late August already. Can you believe it? We wait all year for summer and it seems to be over in a flash. But actually, August in the garden can be a strange month so perhaps we should celebrate it drawing to an end. There's an air of neglect and wistfulness because schools are closed; people are away on holiday; streets and shops in local towns and villages can be quieter and many plants are showing a bit of middle-aged wilt. The exuberance of early season has gone. But in its place comes some wonderful treats: Hydrangea; Perovskia; Helenium; Rudbeckia and many more.

Perovskia looks beautiful in the late summer sunlight  Hydrangeas are looking wonderful right now, including this award-winning Miss Saori. Click the photo for information.                

Has your own zest for summer disappeared too? There's no reason why it should. You can keep the show on the road by planting up some pots of later summer colour. Flowers such as Dahlias and the trusted 'Garden Mums' give a real boost when potted up and placed handily near your door and on patios. Let us enjoy the beauty that this later stage in the season gives us. The later summer sunlight has a mellow, more subtle quality that makes the garden shine with vibrance.  Belgian Chrysanthemums, or Garden Mums as they are fondly known, are at their best in late summer.

Dahlias are shining like beacons in the late summer borders and they look great in pots too.  Perennials such as Crocosmia are looking truly stunning at the moment. The strap-like leaves are topped with elegant, bright flower spires in delicious shades of orange, red and yellow. Then there are the delightful Dahlias which are full of pizzazz. Agastache is looking dark and moody and those radiant red flowers of Persicaria are stunning. Unite them with silvery shapes of Eryngium, all set against lush green foliage, and you have a great combination, especially when set against grasses.

Crocosmia Twilight Fairy Gold will scatter a little stardust on your summer borders! Click the photo for more information.

Crocosmia Zeal Tan gives a really bold splash above the strap-like foliage in late summer. Click the photo for more information. Ahh, grasses. We have arrived at the time when ornamental grasses take centre stage. There are grasses for every type of situation. Big and bold or demure and delicate. Some sparkle with wonderful flower and seed heads, many wave and shimmer in the breeze and some just provide a great foil for other more showy blooms. Miscanthus; Carex; Fescues; Cortaderia; Panicum; Pennisetum and many more are gracing the borders. They are reaching their moment when they are blousy and gorgeous plugging the gap left by the annuals and perennials that have already peaked. That's the beauty of gardening, you can plan for all seasons.

 Grasses are taking centre stage in the garden now.

Persicaria, Sedum and grasses look amazing in August and September Let's not mourn for the end of August, but appreciate the here and now. Look forward, not back, but don't forget to revel in the moment.

The fruit and veg garden harvest

Now here's an area in the garden that's lush right now. The vegetable and fruit garden.

Tomatoes are sweetest if left to ripen on the vine

  • Tomatoes can be harvested as they ripen on the vine. Let them stay in the sun for as long as possible so the taste is sweeter. But not long enough to allow the skins to split. Vigilance is required!

  • Harvest courgettes, even thought they might seem small leave them a day too long and they expand rapidly. Better to enjoy their young, flavourful form than allow them to go past their best.

  • Harvest peas and beans daily.

  • Harvest onions when the foliage begins to collapse sever the shallow roots and allow them to lay on the surface of the soil if the weather is dry. If it's wet, bring them in to dry before removing the foliage ready for storing.

Date for the diary: Visit Merriments Gardens for the Macmillan Cancer Support open day on Wednesday 2 September. Enjoy a day out and help this valuable charity too - all proceeds on the day will go to Macmillan.


By Perfect Plants


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