Late Summer rolls on

The three week cool spell (with days in the teens and single-digit nights) is over with temperatures back in the low twenties (70°s) during the day. The garden certainly has relished every second of it!

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pink Diamond’ is in flower.

The bees love this one. It opens white, but should soon fade to a striking, rosy pink. H. paniculata is still somewhat uncommon in Australia and I had to hunt around for this plant.


Autumn seems to continue to want to take an early hold, which is  worrying as there is still potential for hot weather between now and late March…further, it means that when the real autumn comes around, half the plants will be out of leaf 😦

Here, an Acer japonicum (Full-moon Maple) in a neighbouring garden is already in autumn colour:

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Too early for Autumn! I do like the white agapanthus though….


Most of the Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) divisions have flowered:

I’m not sure about the apricot/beige one (even though the bees like it). It’s an unusual colour and I’ll see if it grows on me, if not it can be moved to a different spot.

There are still two Yarrow pieces yet to flower, so it will be interesting to see what colours I get from them!


Salvias are a great performer in the more frost-protected areas of the garden. Here are but some of my current plants…

The deep purple Salvia x hybrid ‘Amistad’ is quite tender; I nearly lost the seedling to frost this last winter, but it has since tripled in growth and finally produced some very stunning deep purple flowers held on almost black calyxes.

Likewise, the showy, yet, horribly named ‘Sallyfun Bicolour’ (yes, that really is its name) has flowered much better since I moved it towards the front of the house where it has radiant warmth from the brick-work. Despite the name, with its three-tone dark blue, light blue and white frothy flowers, I think it is one of the nicest Salvias I have yet seen.


I have only the one Penstemon in the garden so far – I intend to add more – this one is Penstemon hartwegii ‘Schönholzeri’ and is finally starting to put on a show:


Of course with all of the rain this summer, weeds are prolific. Here in the Blue Mountains, combinations of yellow tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata), montbretia (Crocosmia X crocosmiiflora) and Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus praecox) feature along every road and empty lot……….as an interesting aside on Latin vs. common names, did you know that Horticultural convention dictates that you need to use common names when referring to weed species?

Anyway here are some random ‘pretty’ weed photos around town. These were all taken on a camera phone, so forgive the quality:

I love the goat tied to the fence to control weeds on the nature strip 🙂

Anyway, here is my patch of Crocosmia X crocosmiiflora in flower. This is in another part of the garden that I haven’t shown and haven’t even made a start on yet – you can see this weed keeping good company with agapanthus, blackberry, privet and so on….


I have also planted a Coreopsis, but this garden cultivar is sterile:

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Coreopsis ‘Salsa’


Tulbaghia violacea variegata (Variegated Society Garlic) has put on a display, with yet more Papaver nudicaule (Iceland Poppies) behind it preparing for their gazillionth bloom.

It’s also heartening to see how much growth the Cupressus glabra ‘Blue Ice’ (Arizona Cypress) row has put on this summer, they’ve more than doubled in size. You can see here, how tiny they were when planted in April 2014:

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Variegated Society Garlic, Arizona Cypress and Iceland Poppies

The Tulbaghia flowers are remarkably similar to the Agapanthus, which, having bloomed early, are now starting to go over. However, I found a slightly different variety in the garden which has a far more pronounced stripe to the flower:

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Agapanthus variety

I’m assuming this one is a chance variation. Maybe it’s actually unique and I can give it naming rights with a hideous name like the Salvia? Agapanthus praecox ‘Mattfun Bicolour’ anyone? Ugggh.

Sisyrinchium bellum (California Blue Grass) has put on a few flowers. This has been rather slow growing since I put it in at the start of summer; this area that I reclaimed had a lot of wild sheep-sorrel (Rumex acetosella) which I have struggled to remove. 

With its tiny roots wrapping around everything, I suspect it has slowed this plant down. S. bellum is hardy to USDA zone 7/8 and will take temperatures down to at least -15°C/5°F.

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Sisyrinchium bellum 

I do like the strappy leaves that these flowers provide: while much of the world is using grasses (a trend I like), I have to be very careful about what I choose as many of the foreign grasses could have an utterly devastating impact on the Blue Mountains environment, given that flowers/seeds are pollinated and dispersed entirely by the wind.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t have the tried-and-true grass-like plants such as the Tulbaghia violacea, Sisyrinchium bellum and this one, Zephyranthes candida (Autumn Crocus), which as an added bonus all produce great flowers:

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Zephyranthes candida


A plug of Stachys officinalis ‘Rosea’ (Betony) has given me it’s first little flower:

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Stachys Officinalis ‘Rosea’

It has a long way before it is redolent of Piet Oudolf’s deft hand:

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How Piet Oudolf does Stachys

But it’s a start 😉


And though I’ve shown them before, the roses provide such dreaminess to the garden:

These have seldom been without a bloom all season.


And what would late summer be without Dahlias?

My next door neighbour gave me these tubers from her garden last winter when I helped dig out some blackberry that had taken over. Therefore, I haven’t the faintest idea what the cultivar names are, except to say that all of them are low-growing varieties that don’t need staking.

The slugs and snails seem to be having a field day with the foliage and flowers, snapping everything off at the base; I suspect my neighbour uses bait to keep hers in such good condition 🙂

Despite being slug magnets, I love them, they are old-fashioned and remind me of my grandparent’s tiny front garden. However, the tree Dahlia cutting has not grown much at all; it was cut back by a slug attack at the start of summer, and the recent cool weather is hampering its growth. By now it should be at least 1.2m – 2m (4′ – 7′) tall:

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Tree Dahlia – not much growth


Verbena Canadensis is in flower. These are very short-lived perennials, but put on a reasonable display during their life. Dead-heading will extend the life and flowering. These continue the low-growing, white frothy theme that Iberis usually perform during spring.

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Verbena Canadensis with out-of-season azalea

Case in point, re: dead-heading…the Lupins are preparing for another show. However, these flower spikes are no where near as fat or prolific as they were at the start of summer, but they look great with the background Astilbe:

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Late flowering Lupins and Astilbe

Not everything is successful. I sowed a crop of Ageratum in early spring. Almost all were eaten by snails and the one that is left has taken five long months to do this:

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One sad customer

Same deal with Impatiens, this is the best out of the seedlings I planted four months ago:

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A slightly less sad customer

The rest still look like this:

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More sad customers

I put in some annual Wallflowers; no growth and not one flower.

Even the Bellis perennis, (English Daisy) while successful in terms of numbers germinated + survival, have been slow to take. September:

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Bellis perennis – September…can anyone spot the error on the seed packet?

I have only just had the first flowers, and the plants are still fairly small after five months:

I must be one of the only gardeners struggling to get these oh-so-basic plants to grow!

At least most of the Aster family co-operates….Osteospermums still bloom away:

Felicia amelloides is repeat flowering:

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Felicia and Dianthus


Abelia x grandiflora (Glossy Abelia) is in bloom. This forms part of an semi-formal hedgerow along the neighbours boundary (one that has an eclectic mix of Cypress, Erica, Philadelphus, Pittosporum, Photinia, Prunus, and so on) so it has always been clipped at times that probably don’t suit its flowering habit:

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Abelia x grandiflora

I’ve taken a few cuttings of this shrub as they do very well around here (although the winter makes them loose their leaves) and it will make a much nicer specimen in the garden rather than crammed into the hedgerow with all manner of other plants.

Happy Gardening 🙂

 

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39 thoughts on “Late Summer rolls on

  1. I know Autumn is coming for you but seeing your lovely post makes me feel hopeful of a summer full of flowers, your garden is really gorgeous too. What do you use as a mulch in your borders? (The Bellis Perennis packet seems to be showing another flower)

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  2. Wow, wow, wow, it’s fantastic you are in gardening nirvana. First, I think you have ‘1869’ Achillea, invasive here. I worked long in my other garden to get rid of it. Ageratum is coming up unbidden here and gets over a meter tall! Would love to have weed Agapanthus.
    We also had Abelia like that, but preferred Dwarf cultivars.

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    • Thanks! It is a good spot for gardening 🙂 Achillea hasn’t proven to be the slightest bit invasive here (and it’s old fashioned and drought-tolerant, so it would have well and truly done all of its damage by now) – must the combination of soil and rainfall. It is always so weird to see which plants are pests in different parts of the world!

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  3. Beautiful blooms! I have many of the same specimens as you know. It will be interesting to see what survived the winter after my mad-dash late autumn planting. Your seasonal changes are a reminder to all of us in the northern hemisphere that spring is coming! We had a pretty mild winter, and it’s not over yet, but I do feel sorry for some of the people in the US who have been hammered with incredible snow storms. Spring can’t come soon enough for those folks!
    I tried seeds last year, and will never again bother with trays and plant pots. What a disappointment! It IS supposed to be a cost effective way to garden, but I found it to be just the opposite. Scattering seeds …now I might still give that a go. Otherwise, self-seeding and small specimen planting are the way for me. 🙂
    Happy gardening Matt! Your hard work is paying off!

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    • Thanks! Parts of the garden are starting to come together (I am able to turn a blind eye to all the areas that are still weed infested!) They say autumn is the best time to establish plants, but I don’t know if that would be true so far North without the sun still warming the soil. I do feel sorry the folks in the US, their winter is just plain harsh….but I can’t wait to see your garden this spring 🙂

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  4. I find it so funny that Crocosmia and Agapanthus are weeds in your area; Agapanthus are only just hardy here and they struggle through cold winters but also don’t really like the drought in summer either! I have just bought some crocosmia to put in the cuttings bed!

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    • It is strange as winters are very cold here (many days don’t get above 0C) and the agapanthus really do turn to mush, but I either ignore he mess, or run the lawn mower over smaller ones once winter is done (sacrilegious, I know) and then they just keep going! They are indestructible, but we get high rainfall, so I suspect that has a part to play

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  5. You have an incredible amount in bloom, Matt! It’s interesting to see that some of the flowers that are usually spring bloomers here, like the Iceland poppies and Agapanthus, are late summer bloomers in your climate. And speaking of climate: here in Southern California, our temperatures this week have been in the mid-80sF with near zero humidity, heading toward the 90F mark tomorrow, and it’s still officially winter. I’d much prefer your cooler late summer weather.

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    • The Iceland poppies have been a surprise to me, too. When I lived in Sydney…these were well and truly annuals. They would bloom once at the very start of spring for a few weeks and by late spring would have died from the heat. I guess our summers are cool enough to mimic the sub-polar areas where they originate, as these show no signs of dying back yet. I hope your weather returns to normal soon, that heat certainly must be drying out any benefit you guys had from recent rainfall.

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  6. What an incredible sight, it makes me long for summer in my hemisphere! What have been some of your biggest challenges in your garden this summer? And what steps are you taking in preparation for the coming autumn?

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    • Thanks! This summer has been so wet and when we have had a sunny day, then it has rained that evening…this has meant slugs and snails have been munching everything (and I don’t use snail bait), plus we have had over a month this summer where the temperature hasn’t risen above 60F, which has curtailed the growth of so many plants. Come autumn my real job starts to slow down, which means that I’ll turn my attention back to trying to clean up the rest of the yard, which will see me working through most days until October when business picks up again. It’s exciting, there’s heaps to do and I can’t wait 🙂 I bet you are wishing for some break in the weather with all of that snow – hopefully it will be soon enough!

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  7. It’s interesting how tree dahlias grab ahold of your attention, right? I’m glad to hear of another person growing them, I was beginning to think they were going out of favor! Mine seem to grow faster as the season gets later. At the end of summer they seem large but not extremely so. By the time the first frost kills the barely opening flower buds (frustrating…) they are towering over the house and surrounding trees.

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    • I love them, and had to have it the first time I ever saw one! This was grown from a piece from a yard in the next town. I’m hoping the return to more normal temperatures will help it put on a bit of growth, but at lower altitudes than here (I’m 3500′ above sea level) they are already quite tall, so I am hoping that this one will get tall enough to flower this season. But you are right…not many people grow them which is a real shame as they are real, eye-catching stunners.

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  8. To think that Agapanthus are weeds where you are! I wish… I can see the Crocosmia as such – they take to multiply and self seed in Portland as well. I keep digging them out and moving them, but haven’t gone as far as to call them weeds yet. 🙂 Anyway, I commend you for starting seeds – I think it’s a little intimidating, but am going to try with a few things this year. Poppies for one thing – I love them! I’m going for three types of black poppies, but the Iceland variety in your garden are very dear to my heart too. They were cherished childhood flowers in my native Sweden.

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  9. Excellent post, lots of interesting stuff. I didn’t know that we are supposed to use common names for weeds – does that mean they do not merit the dignity of being called by their Latin name? Also it’s odd, because as other commenters have pointed out, many of your weeds are desirable plants in other parts of the world. I also know what you mean about the apricot yarrow. In my mind the only proper colors for yarrow are red and yellow, but I suppose I’m willing to have my horizons broadened. Your roses and Felicia (not a plant seen around here, I think) are really lovely. Have you tried some of the hardier Salvias?

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    • Thanks! I think the convention is so that non-horticulturalists can be taught to identify what a weed is. It’s an odd convention because almost everyone calls an agapanthus by its name rather than lily-of-the-nile. I don’t think Felicia would be hardy in your area – the only thing that saves mine is the warm wall behind it. It can be hit-and-miss to get absolute hardiness info for salvias, but the greggii forms (which are most common in my garden) are usually considered quite robust. I know that S nemorsa varieties are hardier still, but I haven’t been able to get any as yet. But for the more exposed areas, I also added some Agastache (which have just started to flower) – these have similar blooms and aren’t bothered by ice and snow.

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  10. Perennial blue ageratum is native to my area and spreads like wild fire here. I love it so I let it roam through out the garden but am forever pulling out handfuls of it! But lupines don’t grow well here at all. Our summers are too hot and humid. Love those roses!

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    • You are lucky to have these in abundance! I know that for one thing that grows well, there is always a trade-off, as clearly my summers aren’t warm enough for ageratum, but allow lupins to re-flower 🙂

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  11. You sure do have plenty in bloom, your hard work is really paying off!
    I love the Amistadt salvia, that’s one which I’ll have to keep an eye out for, and I wish the tree dahlia would grow here… I would try it in a container or dug up each fall, but I already have too many of those things going on 🙂

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    • Thanks – It’s always tricky when you want to grow things out of your climate zone. I know that one day I’ll end up giving into the temptation and digging tender things up to over-winter them 🙂

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  12. Matt the hydrangea at the beginning of this post is beautiful, you have some nice blooms and your roses are beautiful, do they have a perfume, your cooler weather may have a lot to do with slow growth, I have finally realised that the slow growth I have with some plants is due to our lack of hot or even warm summers, Frances

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    • Thanks, Frances! The Iceberg has a very feint smell and the Pierre de Ronsard has a better perfume, but I choose both because of disease resistance and repeat flowering. I had suspected that the cool summers may have had something to do with the poor growth in the annuals, but it’s only in the areas that are more shaded in the morning that growth has been so poor.

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  13. Piet Oudolf’s my favorite “green artist”:-) his work is amazing! I wish I had the space to garden as he does-I love his mix of evergreens ( shaped) mixed with native flowers and large masses of flowers that are left to change with the season. I have a garden book of his gardens-they are inspiring. I don’t read too many blog posts that bring up his name-I am a fan! When I get to Sweden to see my daughter, I will have to skip over to his place!
    Your garden is beautiful! It is filled with color in every place. You have such a large collection of plants. My small space does not allow me to spread out, but boy if I could-I would create like you are doing-just beautiful!
    I just cold stratified + scarified my lupines and all of the seeds germinated. Our natives are “purple”-your white one is stunning! I hope I can have a lovely bed of lupines as yours:-)

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    • I’d love to be able to plant en-masse like Piet Oudolf. Like you, I don’t have endless space to play with, but I do take some inspiration from him and plant the more ‘display’ type areas of the garden in drifts. Congratulations with the lupines – I do love the purple one’, and I’m sure yours will turn out splendidly!

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  14. So many lovely plants to enjoy. I was struck by how many similarities between what you are growing and what will grow for me here. I love small sisyrinchiums and have half a dozen different ones in a warm, freely drained bed. They are perfectly winter hardy. I grew Salvia Amistad last summer and if was wonderful, but I have over wintered cuttings in the house as I doubt it will survive our cold, wet winters. I can grow Felicia , which I love, in pots, but have put it in the cold greenhouse to spare it from the wet and so far it survives.
    Good luck with the seed sowing- it’s fun to gamble.

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    • The climate of the Blue Mountains is very similar to much of the UK, but the one thing that lets me grow some of the more tender plants is the warmth of the sun…even when we get very low minimums, the day usually warms to near zero degrees, which means that the plants can struggle through (just)! One of these days, I will get a greenhouse for seed raising, but at the moment, the back veranda will have to do 🙂

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