Late Summer Starts – Flowers Galore

As late summer starts, for many gardens the ‘dog days’ often spell an end to much of the colour in the garden. But in a mild climate with no real heat knocking plants about, the flowering season is long.

Case in point: the nodding Hellebore flowers perfectly complement the Fuchsia. (Now there’s two plants not often in a sentence, let alone a photo together!)

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Hellebore and Fuchsia…together at last.

And, given the recent rain and weeks-long low temperatures (nights of about 6°C/42°F and days of about 14°C/57°F) mismatched seasonal flowers are not an isolated event.

Here, flowers associated with late winter and late summer sit side by side:

Or a red maple, already wearing its autumn colours despite summer….

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Sorry about the quality – taken with a camera phone

But at least the flowers typically associated with summer are in bloom.

The Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus) is a charming harbinger of late summer:

Astilbe chinensis ‘Vision in Pink’ is blooming. Even though I took these from the same division, I like the subtle differences between the two:

More of my mixed bag lilies have flowered, I have a pale pink, a spotty pink and a white to add to the hot pink that opened at the start of summer

The Violet-Blue of the Campanula has come in for another flush of flowers. It makes a good companion to the Nepeta cataria ‘Walkers Low’:

Brachyscome multifida, a pretty little ground cover from Victoria & New South Wales, puts on a great display for much of the year, but is especially cheery in the height of summer. I’ve quite a number dotted around the garden:

They can be a little short lived, starting to fail after about 7 years, but propagate very easily from layering (which they do naturally, much like strawberries) division or tip-cuttings in summer. It is hardy to -15°C/5°F (USDA zone 7), but demands good drainage to shake the cold.

Continuing with Australian natives, the Grevillea banksii x bipinnatifida ‘Ned Kelly’ is also giving a nice summer display:

This one flowers continuously throughout the year. It is a little more tender than the Brachyscome, but it survives at least -10°C/14°F in my garden, although it starts to show some damage below -5°C/23°F. To keep these flowering and compact, remove all spent blooms and give it a light all-over trim with hedging shears in mid-late spring.

Despite being from opposite ends of the globe, its colours and form remind me of the fading the Oak-leaf Hydrangea:

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Hydrangea quercifolia

The cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus) continue to charm, as do the California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica) and the little Violas. These have been powering along since the first warm days of spring and show no signs of fading:

That packet of seeds certainly has been value for money, with such a long, long flowering season.

Alyssum is always a great flowerer, somewhat weedy, but the bees adore it:

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Sweet Alice

It’s in the same family as Wallflowers, and like them, keeps flowering in my climate as long as it doesn’t get too hot.

But another packet of seeds isn’t quite living up to expectations.

I’m not complaining as the seed packets – ridiculously cheap to begin with – were given to me free as they were two years out-of-date. The germination rate was fine (about 75%), but the picture vs. reality doesn’t quite match:

It would take a lot of photoshopping to even come close!

Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’ is blooming. However, I think this one has a little too much summer shade and it will need to moved in a few months to ensure it’s golden foliage stays true…

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Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’

And of course, in summer, the expectation is for hot, bold, brash colours:

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Nasturtium and Thuja Smaragd conifer

Few plants better capture the feeling of heat than Nasturtiums. Especially in a terracotta pot…(even though I forgot to bring the pot under cover during the winter so the frost cracked large chunks off it.) Oh well…

The Pelargonium has been belting out flowers since October.

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Pelargonium domesticum ‘Solstice Lilac Star’

I know these are sold has tender bedding geraniums in the UK, but they are much cold-hardier than credited (the caveat is that the drainage must be perfect; if they have wet feet, even light frost will kill them).

This one has survived plenty of hard frosts and snow storms without even the slightest damage. After each flush of flowers, just give them a light prune, some comfrey or seaweed solution, and it will be covered in flowers again in two weeks. Best of all, the cuttings root ridiculously easily to make new plants.

Here are Pelargonium cuttings that I put in a few weeks ago, straight in the ground next to the plant. As you can see by the dead bits, I didn’t follow any of the traditional rules associated with cuttings (Eg: no flowering parts, remove lower leaves, make sure the cutting isn’t too large, etc, etc). Most of them have taken root, and it really is that easy:

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Pelargonium cuttings starting to take

I usually pot these on into little tubes and give them away to neighbours and nice clients.

I do exactly the same for boxwood, but here I have at least used a pot. In truth, any pot-plant I ever have ends up being over-taken with garden cuttings, or larger seed that I am germinating. These two pots have Quercus robur and Camellia sasanqua seedlings in amongst the Buxus, Osteospermum and Erysimum cuttings….

Happy Gardening 🙂

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32 thoughts on “Late Summer Starts – Flowers Galore

    • I’ve dotted them in clumps of about 3-5 around the garden and each is approx 25cm apart. I haven’t staked any of them as I have put them only in the most sheltered spots….in more exposed areas I would definitely stake them

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  1. Many good things happening in your garden Matt, I do love how easy it is to propagate pelagoniums, I have lots of cuttings in the greenhouse and as they are so drought tolerant I might even use sime to fill spaces in the borders in summer.

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    • They are as tough as old boots – for me the benefit is how little supplemental water they need to establish. As everything in my garden goes in as a plug, cutting or seedling, watering is imperative early on….not so with the pelargoniums, even those cuttings pushed straight into the garden have only had natural rainfall and have still struck.

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  2. The lilies are beautiful and definately speak of summer. The choisya ‘Sundance’ is a great favorite of mine and it is actually growing quite well in my shady garden, but I’m not sure it will bloom like your pretty shrub. It’s quite strange to think of us being on opposite sides of the world and experiencing different seasons at the same time. I can hardly wrap my mind around the concept.

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    • It is an odd concept! It’s only because we had such a warm late spring, I think the plants think that the last few weeks have been ‘winter’ and have put on another spring display!

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    • I know, we had very warm conditions in late spring which fooled the plants into thinking they’ve already had 3 months of summer, so now that the weather is back to more normal conditions (our normal summer weather is like most people’s spring weather) the plants all think it is spring….strange, huh?

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  3. I have been neglecting flowers in my garden as most focus has been on vegetables and perennials and trees. I love violas, alyssum and Californian poppies as they are all incredibly hardy and should do well here in our conditions. We have had a very mild summer compared to our usual climactic conditions. We usually have warm days (mid 20’s) and extended dry periods (up to 3 months without any rain at all) so this year has been appreciated however the tomatoes are still not ripe and many things haven’t germinated in the glasshouse as the temperatures are just not high enough for them to want to grow. I think next season I am going to plant some flowers…might even try doing it this season with violas and alyssum as they both flower for an extended time and I might get a few flushes of flowers in before winter arrives. I DO have nasturtiums tangled in with my veggie garden and they just keep on keeping on. I started with 2 plants given to me by a friend and they have managed to spread right through the garden. I haven’t been able to grow them before but they seem to love the conditions in the veggie garden. I don’t mind as they act as a living ground cover mulch. Not sure about the drainage as where my geraniums and pelargoniums are is like hard ceramic clay at the moment and they seem happy enough. We don’t get a lot of frost here so hopefully they stay happy. The one plant that I can’t stand is Osteospermum daisies. Our property is besieged with them. We also have a lot of shasta daisies but I actually love them. I leave the Osteospermum (under sufferance) as they do act as cover for bare ground and we have a HUGE buxus on the property. I guess I should start taking a few cuttings and make a hedge somewhere but at the moment, all of my time is concentrated in the veggie garden. Might need to make some kind of a “garden plan” sooner or later ;). Cheers for a wonderful post full of possibilities and propagation. I love growing new plants from older ones 🙂

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      • I am very passionate about gardening and growing our own food and in sourcing and aquiring some interesting food plants. In the process of sourcing apple scion wood (heritage apples) to graft myself a “Frankentree” of apple species and found out from a good horticultural mate yesterday that they have an apple bank of rare and old heritage apples down south that they are exporting scion wood back to places like France and the U.K. to replenish their stocks so that might be the best place to start hunting for scion methinks! I am also hunting out unusual perennial root crops and found a website about breeding your own spuds the other day. It made me VERY excited. Consider my horticultural passion very much alive and kicking and now I have a few more perennials, I might just have to fence off the side garden and create that lovely hardy cottage garden that I wanted only I might have to settle for some Mediterranean species rather than the tender U.K. species I initially wanted. You live, you learn and you adapt 🙂

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  4. Wow – you have a lot of lovelies in your garden! Good thing we here up in the northern hemisphere can get our mental balm from what grows down in your end of the world this time of year. I totally hear you about the cuttings… I took a seed starting clinic a while back, and they made it sound so complicated. All I could think was – Really? Mother nature always makes this work naturally – all by itself. Why does it have to be so difficult? I’m hoping to try some this year… fingers crossed! Also, what is a “comfrey solution”? That one is a new one to me…

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    • Oh yes, I keep it very simple – I think I would give up if it were as complicated as many make out. Comfrey solution is just using about a dozen comfrey leaves, place them in a bucket, fill the bucket with water, leave it undisturbed for at least one month. You then have comfrey tea which you dilute in a watering can 1:10 – it is a great tonic with all of the key elements

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  5. You have an incredible range of plants in bloom Matt! I have to try taking cuttings of my shrubby Pelargoniums. P. tomentosum has propagated easily for me but I’ve had less luck with the more floriferous varieties, possibly due to timing – summer can come on hard and fast here. I admire the Grevillea ‘Ned Kelly’ and hope that mine looks half as good when it finally gets around to blooming.

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    • They are so easy to do, I think the best time in LA to strike cuttings would be during the period of ‘June Gloom’, it is relatively overcast, and milder – they should strike much more readily, but that said, my summer weather is like your weather in April, so any time between April – June should work. The picture I showed has protection from the afternoon sun which also helps.

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  6. Looks great, such a nice range of colors! The lilies look great but I keep noticing the agapanthus. I know it’s like a weed for you but to me it’s a tender pot plant that needs coddling in order to even think about putting up a single bloom.
    I also have a weakness for cuttings. There are dozens and dozens of boxwood waiting for permanent homes.

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    • I just can’t imagine coddling agapanthus…there’s two growing out of my next door neighbours roof guttering….I prune them with a line trimmer or lawn mower. I guess that’s the benefit of USDA zone 8…most of the half-hardy plants can thrive here 🙂

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  7. The cornflowers and California poppies are an outstanding combination. I’m learning a lot from your blog about Australian climate. I had assumed the whole country was hot and dry. Of course it’s a continent, there has to be wide variations.

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    • Thanks, they do look lovely and they’ve flowered for ages. The part I’m in is a very English, or Pacific Northwest sort of climate, but much of Australia is very similar to the broad South of the US in terms of climate: either warm and wet in the east or warm and dry in the west

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