As Summer takes its leave let’s take in and delight in its legacy of beauty.
Nigella Damascena: Often known romantically as Love-in-a-mist, this is one of my most favourite cottage garden flowers. Easy to grow from scattered seed, and they self-seed beautifully, they can decorate your garden with pretty pastels. They’re often blue, but I have a penchant for the pure white, and their narrow, threadlike leaves just add to their feathery enchantment. I even love their bulbous seedheads which can look stunning in a vase amongst other summer flowers too!
Lavender: I can never decide which lavender is my favourite, either delicate British lavendula augustifolia or French lavendula stoechas with its crown of purple feathers! I’m not actually a fan of its fragrance, but its silver leaves and simple purple flowers brighten my summer borders.
Roses: What can I say about roses? They need no introduction. It’s perhaps the world’s most romantic flower renowned for both its beauty and its fragrance. My particular favourites are purple, pinks and whites, and can you ever talk about roses without including red ones? Those pictured here are: Blue Moon, Rhapsody in Blue, unnamed peach rose from my parents’ garden, Louis XIV, Audrey Wilcox and the traditional Iceberg.
Mock Orange: the gorgeous philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ has one of the most beautiful scents of summer. I adore this delicate white flower stained inside with deep red about its yellow stamens, and I look forward to watching my shrub blossom with buds. It’s sister ‘Virginal’ a double mock orange also claims the stunning scent and can quite easily steal the show in a bouquet.
Paeony: You can choose whether you spell them paeony or peony, I don’t think it matters. They are one of my husband’s favourites. We have an amazing red paeony which flowers early, and a beautifully subtle pink Sarah Bernhardt which flowers later. Paeonies like to be planted shallow so their bulbous roots can sunbathe just beneath the soil, plant them too deep and they won’t flower so prolifically. There are many varieties, from single, bowl-like, papery blooms to full doubles as big as your hand!
Clematis: another flower with a multitude of varieties. You can find a variety of clematis that will fill your garden with flowers pretty much all year round. I’ve had tiny white freckled clematis right through to huge Dr Ruppel, pale pink with bright pink stripes. Blues, purple, pinks, white and reds dominate, but you can even find delicate green clematis too, and bright yellow bell-shaped ones which leave bearded seedheads once they’re finished – I delighted in the silver seedheads when I was small!
Hydrangea: this is an odd choice for me, as I hated them with a passion as I grew up. I disliked the bog standard dusky pinks and dull blues, and saw no further than the dirty roadside shrubs in local gardens. When I finally got a garden which already contained a blue hydrangea, I began to appreciate them. They have large mopheads which blossom with tiny flowers and I noticed how my blue flowers began as tight green/white buds and opened into pale pink flowers and slowly changed to big lilac blue flowers. I learned that the colour you get is often dependent on your soil. Blue most common in acid soil, mauve in acid to neutral and pink in alkaline soil. I would love to have a white hydrangea.
Geranium: I don’t really like most greenhouse grown geraniums and prefer the hardy garden varieties, much like the bees do! When Johnsons Blue blooms it creates a cloud of purple and the buzz from bees is audible. The flowers are almost ultraviolet and they add a beautiful swathe of colour for the summer.
Japanese Anemone: definitely one of my favourite late summer flowers. I love the white varieties like Honorine Jobert best, but the dusky pinks, of which I have September Charm, are glorious too. Japanese anemones’ green button centres surrounded by tiny gold stamens are quite bewitching! They have long wiry stems which let the flowers dance in the breeze, and they finish with the strangest cotton wool seedheads which float away once they’re done.
Rudbekia: these are fun flowers that brighten up the end of the season. You can often find Rudbekia and Echinacea in the same gardens as they are both of the cone flower variety, offering late colour into the autumn. They’re often known as black-eyed susan and also come from the sunflower family. Guaranteed to brighten your garden!
So tell me, what have been your favourite summer blooms?
If you had to pick a favourite rose which would it be,
and what colours your summer garden?