Summer Flowering Perennials
Acanthus – Bear’s Breeches
Up to 1.5m x 60cm (5x2ft)
Evergreen perennials with finely sculptured foliage and majestic spikes of purple and white hooded. Of the two species, Acanthus spinosus is more striking than A. mollis. Both flower in July. Soil – any. Sun or shade.
Some up to 1.2 x 1.2m (4x4ft)
The achilleas are a large group of border perennials with dainty ferny foliage. The flat flower heads provide contrast in the border. They also dry well for winter arrangements. Good named kinds include the popular ‘Gold Plate’, with golden yellow flower heads on 1.2 m (4 ft) stems; ‘Coronation Gold’, similar to but more compact than the former; ‘Moonshine’ with silvery foliage and pale yellow flowers; and Taygetea’, with grey leaves and lemon-yellow flowers. Most flower between June and August. Soil – any. Sun.
Anthemis – Camomile
lmx45cm (3 x 1-1/2ft)
These attractive border plants pro duce their yellow daisy flowers over an exceptionally long period, from midsummer to September. ‘Beauty of Grallagh’, ‘E. C. Buxton’ and ‘Grallagh Gold’ are three of the best hybrid cultivars. Soil – well-drained. Sun.
Aruncus Sylvester – Goat’s Beard
1.2m x 60cm (4x2ft)
These tall plants, formerly classed with the spiraeas, bear large plumes of creamy-white blossom around midsummer, to which their finely-cut foliage provides an attractive foil.
Soil – moist. Sun or shade.
Astilbe – False Goat’s Beard
Up to 1m (3 ft)
These bear conspicuous spikes of feathery flowers in a wide range of vivid colours. The best named garden forms are hybrids and include the pure white ‘Bridal Veil’; ‘Fanal’, a fine crimson; ‘Ostrich Plume’, rich pink; and ‘Red Sentinel’, scarlet-red. Flowers in July and August. Soil – moist. Sun or shade.
Up to 1.5m (5ft)x60cm (2ft)
There are many different kinds of campanula, ranging from rock plants only a few inches tall to the stately Campanula lactiflora, 1.5m (5 ft) in height, which, in spite of its considerable stature, needs no support. This species has pale lavender-blue, bell-shaped flowers. C. glomerata, with rounded heads of violet flowers is a popular species that remains in flower for a very long time.
Other popular kinds include ‘Loddon Anna’, a delightful pink cultivar of C. lactiflora, and C. persicifolia, a species that averages 1 m (3 ft) in height and includes one of the finest campanulas – ‘Telham Beauty’, with tall spires of large, rich blue flowers. Most campanulas flower in June and July. Soil – deep, moist. Sun or part shade.
Chrysanthemum maximum – Shasta Daisy
1 m x 30 cm (3 x 1 ft), spreading
A tough, vigorous plant with a rapid rate of spread. There are kinds with single and double daisy flowers all of which cut well. ‘Esther Read’, double white; ‘Everest’, a fine white single; ‘Wirral Supreme’, another pure white double; and ‘Beaute Nivelloise,’ with attractively fringed petals, are all good garden forms. Normally self-supporting, these may need the help of a few twiggy sticks in exposed situations. Flowers are borne from June to August. Soil – any. Sun.
Up to 75cm (2-1/2ft) x 30cm (1ft)
Useful perennials with golden daisy-like flowers that need a sunny situation. ‘Badengold’, ‘Mayfield Gianf and ‘Sunbursf are all fine cultivars; ‘Goldfink’ is a delightful dwarf variety with deep yellow flowers. They flower from July to September. Soil – any. Sun.
Delphinium – Belladonna Hybrids
1m x 45cm (3×1-1/2ft)
The taller hybrid delphiniums, with their towering 2 m (6 ft) flower spikes, need too much attention to warrant their inclusion in this list, outstandingly beautiful though they undoubtedly are. For the labour-saving border, the Belladonna Hybrids, which rarely exceed 1 m (3 ft) in height, are a much better choice. Good named forms of these are ‘Blue Bees’, pale blue; ‘Pink Sensation’, clear pink; and ‘Wendy’, deep blue. Perhaps more beautiful still is the ‘Blue Fountains’ strain, which is easy to raise from seed and produces sturdy plants needing no staking, with flower spikes that rival those of the largest varieties. Belladonna Hybrids flower in June and July. Soil – rich, well-drained. Sun.
Echinacea purpurea – (Rudbeckia purpurea)
Strikingly handsome border plants whose daisy-like flowers have a central conical eye. Outstanding culti vars are ‘The King’ with crimson flowers and ‘Goldquelle’ a double form, with yellow flowers.
Soil – any.
Sun or part shade.
Erigeron – Fleabane
Up to 60 x 30 cm (2×1 ft)
The pink or mauve flowers resemble those of the Michaelmas daisies. They generally flower from June to August. ‘Felicity’, deep pink; ‘Sincerity’, pale mauve; and ‘Darkest of All’, deep violet-blue, are all worth growing. Soil – any. Sun.
Eryngium – Sea Holly
Up to 1.2m x 60cm (4x2ft)
The eryngiums are good plants for exposed situations. The hybrid Eryngium x oliverianum is particularly striking, with its metallic blue thistle-like flowers and stems. E. tripartitum is taller, with candelabra-like sprays of blue flowers. In both cases, the flowers appear from July to August. Soil – light. Sun.
Geranium – Crane’s Bill
Up to 60 x 45cm (2 x 1-1/2ft)
These hardy border plants should not be confused with the tender bedding ‘geranium’ whose correct title is ‘zonal pelargonium’. Some, such as Geranium endressii, are good ground-cover plants that flower almost continuously throughout the summer. ‘Claridge Druce’, with grey-green leaves and magenta-pink flowers, ‘Wargrave Pink’ and ‘Johnson’s Blue’ are all vigorous and long-flowering. None of these exceed 60 cm (2 ft) in height. Soil – any. Sun or part shade.
Geum – Avens
60 x 30cm (2 x 1ft)
A very old favourite among border plants, which starts to flower in early June and continues in bloom until August. Those most commonly seen are cultivars of Geum borisii and include ‘Fire Opal’, with brilliant orange flowers; ‘Lady Stratheden’, with yellow blooms; and ‘Red Wings’, whose bright red flowers are flushed with orange. Soil – any. Sun.
Up to 1.2 x 1m (4x3ft)
The species most often seen in the border is Gypsophila paniculata, with clouds of tiny flowers in dainty sprays. The white-flowered ‘Bristol Fairy’ is the best-known form, but the dwarf ‘Rosy Veil’ with pink flowers is also popular. The plants flower from July to August. Soil – chalky. Sun.
1m x 30cm (3x1ft)
A popular group of plants providing plenty of colour. ‘Bruno’, with deep mahogany red flowers from July to September; ‘Crimson Beauty’, flowering from June to August; and ‘The Bishop’, which bears rich yellow flowers with brown centres from July to September, are three of the more compact cultivars. Soil – light, well-drained. Sun.
Hemerocallis – Day Lily
Up to 1.2mx90cm (4x3ft)
These easily grown members of the lily family produce large clumps of sword-like foliage, bearing masses of lily flowers on tall stems over a period of many weeks in summer. Each flower lasts for a day or two only, then another opens – hence the popular name. The group contains a wide range of colours from palest yellow through shades of orange to deep mahogany red. Of the numerous garden hybrids, the following would make a good representative selection: ‘Burning Daylight’, with deep orange flowers flushed with copper, appearing from July to August; ‘Delicate Splendour’, with pale yellow to white flowers from July to September; ‘Katherine Ormerod’ bearing bright red flowers from July to September; ‘Glowing Gold’, with bright orange flowers from July to September; and ‘Pink Damask’, with coppery pink flowers from July to August.
Soil – any.
Sun or part shade.
Kniphofia – Red Hot Poker
Up to 1.2 m (4 ft) x 60 cm (2 ft)
These are popular border plants, whose flower spikes, or ‘pokers’, can be white, yellow, or varying shades of orange, coral or scarlet. The clumps of grassy foliage remain decorative at all times. ‘Sunset’, with orange pokers; ‘Royal Standard’, with scarlet and yellow pokers and ‘St. Cross’, with deep yellow pokers are outstanding among the larger kinds. These flower from June to July. Kniphofia galpinii, with orange-yellow flowers, is a useful late-flowering species (September-October). ‘Maid of Orleans’ bears slender spikes of ivory white flowers from July to September. Soil – any. Sun.
Liatris – Gay Feather
This medium-sized perennial, with its long spikes of purple flowers, makes a showy subject for the middle of the border. The flowers appear from July to September. It is unusual in being one of the few plants whose flower spikes open from the tip downwards. They make attractive and long-lasting cut flowers.
Soil – well-drained
Sun or part shade.
Lysimachia – Loosestrife
The Yellow Loosestrife, Lysimachia punctata, is an old cottage-garden favourite. The yellowish cup-shaped flowers resemble those of its close relation Creeping Jenny, but they are borne in loose spikes on tall, upright stems, during June and July. L. clethroides, a lesser-known species, has attractive bottle-brush-like spikes of small, white, star-shaped flowers, in July and August.
Soil – any
Sun or part shade
Macleaya cordata – Plume Poppy
Up to 2.5 x 1m (8x3ft)
An unusual member of the large poppy family which, in spite of its great height, stands up well without support. The flowers are small and creamy-white, borne in small feathery clusters. The plume poppy is equally noteworthy for the beauty of its lobed blueish foliage, silvered on the reverse. An ideal plant for the back of the border but once established, it spreads very rapidly. The flowers appear in August. Soil – any. Sun or part shade
Monarda didyma – Sweet Bergamot
90 x 38 cm (3 ft x 15 in)
A colourful asset to any border. This aromatic herb is used to impart its distinctive flavour to a distinguished blend of tea. In the type plant the whorls of hooded flowers are a vivid scarlet. ‘Blue Stocking’, with violet-purple flowers, and ‘Croftway Pink’, with rose-pink blooms, are attractive variants. The flowers appear from June to August. Soil – any. Sun or part shade
Nepeta x faassenii – Catmint
45x30cm (1-½ x 1ft)
Also known as N. mussinii, this is a vigorous grey-leaved aromatic perennial, which flowers over a very long period and makes an excellent edging plant. The flower spikes are lavender-blue in colour and the more vigorous ‘Six Hills Variety’ grows up to about 1 m (3 ft) tall. The flowers are borne from May to September.
Soil – any.
Sun or part shade.
Up to 1m x 60cm (3x2ft)
There are various species of penstemon suitable for the border, all with attractive foxglove-type flowers in a wide range of colours. ‘Evelyn’, with pink flowers, and ‘Garnet’, with deep red blooms, are both good forms. ‘Blue Gem’ has flowers of a lovely sky blue. All flower from July to September. Soil – any. Sun or part shade.
Phlox paniculata – Border Phlox
Up to 1m x 60cm (3x2ft)
Also known as P. decussata, these popular border plants flower continuously from July well into September. There is a large choice of varieties in an equally wide range of colours. A representative selection would include ‘Border Gem’, deep violet; ‘Brigadier’, orange-red; ‘Rembrandt, pure white; ‘Tempest’, carmine-pink; and ‘Vintage Wine’, reddish purple. In exposed situations, ‘Mia Ruys’, white, and ‘Otley Purple’ which are more compact than the first five mentioned, would be a better choice.
Soil – rich, well-drained. Sun or part shade.
Potentilla – Cinquefoil
These attractive free-flowering plants have strawberry-like leaves and flowers. ‘Gibson’s Scarlet’, a semi-prostrate form with bright red flowers; ‘Roulette’, with vivid red flowers tipped with yellow; and ‘William Rollison’ with orange-yellow semi-double blooms, are all worth a place in the border. The flowers are borne from June to September.
Soil – well-drained. Sun or part shade.
Rudbeckia – Cone Flower
Up to 1m x 45cm (3 x 1-1/2ft)
For trouble-free maintenance, plant only the smaller kinds which flower mainly in summer. The finest of these are named cultivars of Rudbeckia fulgida deamii which itself is a handsome plant, having bright yellow daisy-like flowers with a central black boss. ‘Goldquelle’ and ‘Goldsturm’ are both equally attractive; the flowers of the latter are a paler lemon-yellow. The flowering period is July to September. Soil – any. Sun or part shade
Salvia – Sage
Up to 1mx60cm (3x2ft)
The salvias form a large plant group.
In addition to the culinary sage, Salvia officinalis, whose variegated forms make fine edging plants, there are many other species and cultivars suitable for any position in the border. One of the most striking of these is S. superba (also known as S. virgata nemerosa), noteworthy for its dense spikes of purple flowers which retain their beauty even when they have faded, to a rich cinnamon-brown. S. haematodes, with pale blue flowers, is another species worth a place, while S. argentea is cultivated primarily for its silver-felted foliage. The flowers appear from July to August. Soil – any. Sun.
Sidalcea – Greek Mallow
1m x 60cm (3x2ft)
The mallow-like flowers of this perennial appear in a long succession from midsummer well into autumn. Sidalceas do not like disturbance. Good named cultivars include ‘Rose Queen’, with rose-pink flowers; ‘Sussex Beauty’, with clear pink blooms; and ‘William Smith’, with salmon pink flowers. The flowering period is from July to September. Soil – any. Sun or part shade.
Solidago – Golden Rod
Up to 1m x 45cm (3×1-1/2ft)
Solidagos have plumes of tiny yellow flowers and are easy to grow. Although many of the older forms are rather uninteresting, as well as being tall and terribly invasive, the smaller and more compact introductions make excellent trouble-free plants. Among these are several dwarfs, 30 cm (1 ft) or less in height, such as ‘Cloth of Gold’ and ‘Laurin’. On the taller side are ‘Goldenmosa’ with yellow, mimosa-like flowers and ‘Ledsham’, a brilliant yellow golden rod of medium height. The plants flower from August to September. Soil – any. Sun or part shade.
45x30cm (1-1/2 x 1ft) The best-known member of this species is Stachys lanata, whose flannel-textured leaves with their white woolly down have earned the plant its popular name of ‘Lamb’s Tongue’. This is an ‘evergrey’, useful for ground cover at the edge of the border. Since the small purple flowers are uninteresting, the newer cultivar ‘Silver Carpet’, a non-flowering form, is a great improvement on the type. S. macrantha ‘Superba’ (Betony) has much more striking blooms of a rich rosy mauve, which appear from July to August. The wrinkled hairy foliage is also attractive. This plant is sometimes known as Betonica macrantha or B. grandiflora. Soil – any. Sun.
Tradescantia x andersoniana – Spiderwort
45x45cm (1-1/2 x1-1/2ft)
Most of the garden forms of this plant are hybrids, noteworthy for the exceptional length of their flowering season, which lasts from June to September. There are several good cultivars, including ‘Bluestone’, with bluish purple flowers; ‘J.C. Weguelin’, azure blue; ‘Iris Prichard’, rosy mauve; and an unusual semi-double mauve, ‘Flore Pleno’. Soil – any. Sun or part shade.
Veronica – Speedwell
There are many species of veronica, ranging in height from a few centimetres to 1.5m (5 ft) or more. The best for the trouble-free border are those of medium height such as Veronica incana, with silvery leaves and intense blue flower spikes; ‘Crater Lake Blue’, with ultramarine flowers; and ‘Pavane’, with grey foliage and pink flower spikes. These all flower from June to August. Soil – light to medium loam. Sun or part shade.
Although the choice narrows considerably when border perennials for the autumn display are under consideration, there are still quite a number that will provide colour in abundance from September well into November. The most widely grown of these are the Michaelmas Daisies.
Anemone x hybrida – Japanese Anemone
Up to 1 mx45cm (3×1-1/2ft)
Often listed as A. japonica, these are exceptionally fine plants with single or semi-double, satin-textured, chalice-shaped flowers. ‘Louise Uhink’ is a splendid semi-double white; ‘Queen Charlotte’ and ‘Prince Henry’ are two ‘royals’ with pale and deep pink flowers respectively. ‘September Charm’ is a pale pink single whose petals are tinged with mauve. Soil – light to medium loam. Sun or shade.
Aster – Michaelmas Daisy
Up to 1m x45cm (3×1-1/2ft)
This important group of border plants is an ideal choice for bringing down the curtain on the border display in a blaze of colour. The taller kinds should be avoided, as they need staking and tying. The dwarf kinds, not more than 15 cm (6 in) in height, are ideal for the edge of the border, and require no support, while those of medium height may need the support of a few twiggy sticks in exposed gardens. The cultivars in the novi-belgii group are mostly in the medium range, and a good choice would be ‘Ada Ballard’, with double mauve flowers; ‘Crimson Brocade’, deep red double; ‘Jean’, violet mauve; ‘Carnival’, crimson pink semi-double; and ‘Raspberry Ripple’, a carmine pink semi-double.
The dwarf hybrids, which are not more than 60 cm (2 ft) in height (most are shorter), are literally covered in bloom during their flowering period. Good cultivars include ‘Blue Bouquet’, with bright blue flowers; ‘Jenny’, reddish pink; and ‘Snowsprite’, a fine semi-double white. All the above-named flower between September and October. Soil – any. Sun.
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides – Leadwort
30x38cm (1ft x 15in)
This is a dwarf perennial plumbago that is completely hardy; it is sometimes classified as a sub-shrub. The flowers, borne in small clusters, appear from September to October and are a deep blue in colour. An added attraction is the rich rust-red colour of the leaves when they fade. Soil – light Sun Chrysanthemum rubellum 75x45cm (2-1/2 x 1-1/2ft) Although most of the hardy borderare summer flowering, this is one attractive species that blooms in autumn and is completely hardy. Good cultivars are ‘Clara Curtis’, with pink flowers; ‘Mary Stoker’, soft yellow; and ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’, rich chestnut-red. All bloom in October. Soil – any. Sun
1m x 45cm (3×1-1/2ft)
This perennial is useful for the autumn border. The foliage is like that of a climbing species such as montana, and the blue flowers, which resemble the bells of hyacinths, are attractive and colourful. The hybrid ‘Cote d’Azur’ has flowers of a deeper blue than those of the type. The flowers appear during October. Soil – alkaline Sun or part shade. Helianthus decapetalus
Perennial sunflowers have a reputation for invasiveness but newer forms are more compact and easily kept within bounds. They include ‘Loddon Gold’ and ‘Capenoch Star’, with double and single yellow flowers respectively. The flowers are borne in October. Soil – any. Sun
Physostegia virginiana – Obedient Plant
This curious plant gets its popular name from the behaviour of its tubular flowers, each of which is on a kind of ball-and-socket joint and stays put when moved in any direction. ‘Vivid’, with rose pink flowers, is the showiest cultivar. ‘Alba’, with white flowers, is also worth growing. Both flower in October. Soil – any. Sun or part shade.
Sedum – Stonecrop or Ice Plant
Up to 60x45cm (2×1-1/2ft)
The sedums, with their fleshy leaves and large flat flower heads, are among the brightest jewels of the autumn border. The flowers of these plants attract butterflies in a similar way to those of the buddleias. ‘Autumn Joy’, with salmon pink flowers; ‘Ruby Glow’, deep ruby red; and ‘Brilliant’, bright pink, are three of the most outstanding forms. They flower from September to October. Soil – well-drained. Sun.or part shade