HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN STACK UP FOR LATE-SUMMER BLOOMS? I’ll admit my own beds are more colorful in April than August. Still, the flowers which do emerge at this time — like the cranesbill geranium above — are choice. Would you like to see them?
‘Rozanne’ is probably the loveliest of all cranesbill geraniums. I have it next to the top steps in the Serpentine Garden, where it thrives in full sun and well drained soil. The violet-blue blooms continue from mid-July through at least the end of October if faded flowers are promptly removed. Rozanne’s medium-green leaves turn brilliant-red in fall. After the ground freezes solidly, I apply a 2-inch mulch beneath, not above, the plant’s foliage. Hardy zones 5-7.
Hydrangea paniculata makes a striking display in August. This is when clusters of snow-white bloom appear at the tips of graceful, arching stems. ‘Chantilly Lace,’ above, prospers here in full sun from its perch atop a stone wall. To keep this paniculata within bounds — it can grow to 13 feet — I prune it back severely in February. The shrub is extremely drought-tolerant. It is a reliable perennial for zones 4-7.
Lately I’ve enjoyed sitting on a bench in the Serpentine Garden, beneath the shade of a Yoshino Cherry tree, where I can comfortably observe all the beautiful insects which visit Buddleja davidii ‘Dubonnet.’ This purple “Butterfly Bush” attracts butterflies, bees, moths and almost every other flying and buzzing creature you can imagine. The 14-inch long, sweetly-scented cones are ideal for cutting. Although I prune the shrub back to 24 inches in late October, it never fails to reclaim its stunning, 8-foot stature by late June. If you have room for this drought-tolerant, disease-free perennial in your garden, be sure to obtain one. It is hardy in zones 5-9.
Irresistible too is Clethra alnifolia ‘Pink Spires.’ In August, this spreading, upright shrub sends up dainty candles of creamy-pink bloom. These have so strong a sweetness, almost like Linden flowers, that the fragrance spreads for hundreds of feet. I enjoy its perfume especially in the evening, when the honeyed air wafts through my open windows. Although clethra prefers moist soil and part shade — it is really a woodland plant — it has performed well here in full sun and fairly dry soil. To learn more about this perfect perennial, read this profile.
Stealing the late-summer show in a small, partly-shaded perennial bed located between my Kitchen and Woodland gardens, is a trio of Digitalis purpurea ‘Camelot Rose.’ These “foxgloves” came from seeds I winter-sowed back in January, 2010. Bumble bees and hummingbirds love purpurea’s speckled, maroon trumpets as much as I do. What I don’t love are the weak, 2-foot tall flowering stalks. These inevitably collapse in wind and rain. If you grow Digitalis, be sure to stake the plants early on.
Of course there are plenty of evening-scented Nicotianas which bloom here in late-summer, too. But let’s talk about your garden. Which flowers bring color (and possibly scent) to your world in August?
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