Is your garden lacking interest at this time of year? Have all your shrubs and perennials fizzled out for the season?
Then it’s time to turn your “fizzle” into “sizzle.” There are plenty of plants that will keep your garden blooming over the next month. Here are just a few.
Sunshine Blue Bluebeard (Caryopteris clandonensis ‘Sunshine Blue’) is one of my favourite late summer/fall blooming shrubs. Its lemony yellow leaves provide colour throughout the growing season. Come late August, clusters of small blue/purple flowers open to create the perfect contrast to the yellow foliage. This three- to four-foot shrub grows best in full sun to light shade. It is fairly drought tolerant once establish.
Hummingbird Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia ‘Hummingbird’) is a gorgeous, compact, deciduous shrub that features bottlebrush spikes of extremely fragrant white flowers mid- to late summer. Flowers will usually last four to six weeks. There are several varieties of this native plant available, varying in size or flower colour. ‘Hummngbird’ is the most compact one, growing only about three by three feet. Summersweet does well in full sun to part shade and can tolerate damp soil. The flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators.
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) has been around for quite some time but there are many new varieties that are worth mentioning. All varieties sport long, arching spikes of fragrant flowers, ranging in colour from white to yellow to various shades of pink and purple. As the name indicates, the flowers attract many types of butterflies. Many of the varieties grow at least six feet tall or more, but there are now some smaller growing varieties such as the ‘Lo & Behold’ series as well as ‘Miss Molly’, ‘Miss Ruby’ and ‘Flutterby Petite Tutti Fruitti Pink’ (now there’s a name for you).
Hydrangeas are one of the longest-blooming family of summer plants. Every year, more and more varieties are released. Some are longer blooming (or repeat blooming), some more compact and some have different flower colours or forms. There are just too many varieties to go into detail. One of the best species for late summer blooms is the P.G. Hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’). There are many varieties of this hydrangea, all growing to different heights, but they are similar in that the flowers open creamy white and age to various shades of pink. They usually hold some colour well into September or October.
The Perennial Hibiscus has one of the largest and showiest flowers. Although its dinner plate-size flowers and lush leaves make this perennial look more tropical, it is hardy to Zone 4. Most varieties of Perennial Hibiscus grow to be three to five feet tall, while the taller growing cousin (Rose of Sharon) can reach 10 or 12 feet. This sun-loving perennial can produce at least 100 flower buds in one season, with each flower only lasting a day. It blooms over a three- to five-week period. My favourite variety is ‘Midnight Marvel’ because of its burgundy leaves and bright crimson red flowers.
Japanese Anemone (Anemone x hybrida) is another great late summer-fall blooming perennial. Once again, there are several varieties available sporting white or different shades of pink flowers that can be single or double. Some varieties are opening at this time, while others will begin blooming in the fall. Anemones do well in full sun or in part shade (dappled light).
There are many other plants that will be that burst of bloom at this time such as Rudbeckias, Coneflowers, Sedums, Blue Leadwort, Asters and Toadlilies. So, if your garden is lacking interest at this time, take the time to visit an area garden centre and see what is stealing the show.
Joanne Young is a Niagara-on-the-Lake garden expert and coach. See her website at joanneyoung.ca.