Fashionably late perennials

Don’t say goodbye to summer too soon. Thanks to today’s warmer climate, summer now stretches into early October, and the traditional midsummer floral display seems like a flash in the pan. Where once all the summer colour appeared in June and July, you can now see a second set of late flowering plants see you through September and October.

Flowers that peak in late-summer are pretty wide-ranging, as are shrubs, climbers and herbaceous perennials. Most fashionable annuals, exotics and tender perennial patio plants should also stay in flower until late-September, or even early October, if properly looked after.

Add fresh excitement to your autumn displays by including a selection of seasonal stunners to flower beds and patio pots. Several hardy perennials have been patiently growing all year, waiting for their turn to take centre stage. And now their time has come to burst into bloom, filling our gardens with vibrant colour.

Japanese anemones are always a favourite, a fabulous plant for brightening up the garden in late summer. Tall and bold, their elegant, cup-shaped flowers in shades from pink to white really celebrate the season from August to October. The leaves are vine-like, dark green, and semi-evergreen. They’re adaptable too, growing in sites from full sun to partial shade, perfect for lighting up a dark corner of the garden, or at the back of an herbaceous border.

Favourite Late Summer/Autumn flowers

• Echinacea        
These daisy shaped flowers are available in a range of colours with pink/purple still being the most popular. Flowering from August through to October their seed heads will be raided in autumn by hungry goldfinches.

• Rudbeckias
Rudbeckias have become increasingly popular in recent years. They are characterised by their colourful daisy-like flowers surrounding a prominent conical disk. Traditional yellow flowers have now been joined by numerous red and orange varieties that last from July to October.

• Nerines
Nerines are grown from bulbs for their showy, long lasting autumn blooms in shades of pink, red and white.

• Ceratostigma
For a true blue injection of colour into the garden in late summer, you will not go far wrong with Ceratostigma. These low-growing shrubs and perennials bear flowers late in the season in shades from sky blue to cobalt blue and provide autumn foliage colour.

• Cyclamen hederifolium
A delightful little plant producing delicate pink flowers from late summer to autumn. Often emerging after the flowers, the heart-shaped deep green leaves are patterned with silver, creating a striking marbled effect.

• Penstemons
Penstemons are one of the most valuable late summer-flowering perennials, and in all but the coldest regions, are easy and reliable. All penstemons are at their best in late summer and autumn and if you deadhead them, they produce flowers continuously until late autumn.