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As Summer Fades…

September 12, 2012

wwwgardendesignercouk-41.JPGAs I see the first signs of the Virginia creeper’s leaves starting to turn red I know that autumn is just around the corner, but September is still a vibrant and colourful month in the garden.

One ‘sunny’ flower that is in it’s full glory this time of year is the Rudbeckia, with the common name of Black-eyed Susan, as it has a blackish-brown centre with yellow daisy-like flowers. These are easy and reliable plants to grow in any sunny spot and can grow up to three feet tall to make a super late summer, through to early autumn, display in a flower border.

Another ‘good doer’ for the late summer garden is the Sedum spectabile ‘Brilliant’, which is a clump forming deciduous perennial with upright stems of fleshly leaves that have clusters of small pink star-shaped flowers. This plant has the common name of Ice Plant, as the glaucous fleshly leaves are always cool to the touch. The attractive flower seed head can be left on the Sedum throughout the winter to give interest and then cut away when they have got too tattered.

A climber that is really showing off in my garden at the moment is the Passiflora caerulea, the Blue Passion Flower. The flower of this plant is so exotic and unusual; I really do marvel at its exceptional splendour. This is a fast growing semi evergreen climber that likes a hot sheltered wall and it produces bright orange plum sized fruits in the autumn. Passion Flowers come in a range of other colours such as white, magenta pink, red and purple, but these are not so hardy as the blue variety.

Another pretty climber which is also useful for summer and autumn interest is the Clematis tangutica. It has these lovely dainty lantern-like nodding yellow flowers that transform into wonderful silky swirls of seed heads. This Clematis can grow to a height of fifteen feet and can be hard pruned down to about a foot in spring to give new fresh growth for next season.

There are many enthusiastic and passionate Dahlia growers and I can certainly understand why they’re so keen about this particular flower. The flower heads are truly amazing and their forms range from single petals, to pompom, ball and to decorative forms.

Dahlias flower from mid-summer to autumn until the first frost and also come in a wide variety of colours from whites to reds, yellows to oranges, light pinks to deep purples and will look super in borders. Most Dahlias will need to be lifted unless it is in a frost-free area. After the leaves have been blackened by the first frost, dig out the tubers, brush off the soil and leave in a cool dry place to dry naturally. Then simply dust with a fungicide, pack in boxes of peat or dry sand and store in a cool dry place. The tubers can then be planted out next spring after all danger of any frost has passed.

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