If your garden is looking a little tired , spend time this weekend injecting some fresh colour into your borders, pots and containers. A second wind can be achieved by tidying out bedding that has gone over, examining gaps in your planting schemes, and choosing some plants that will flower from now until early autumn. There are plenty of these and here are some I’d recommend:
Helenium is a cheerful member of the daisy family and is invaluable in the garden at this time of year. It’s perfect for more informal gardens and is often used in prairie-style planting — natural-looking drifts of easy-going plants. It likes to be in a bright and sunny position in good, well-enriched soil that doesn’t dry out. ‘Moorheim’ has dark reddish-brown petals, which pairs well with ‘Rauchtopas’, which has bright yellow petals that curve upwards to show a glimpse of orange beneath. To get a display a bit earlier, try ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’, or ‘Lambada’ for some flamboyant crimson.
Lobelia ‘Starship Blue’ is a showy half-hardy perennial that stands to attention with upright spikes of bright blue flowers and is great for adding height, structure and a little dash of drama. Lobelias like moist soil in sun or partial shade and will keep flowering until October.
Penstemon ‘Arabesque Appleblossom’ is a very pretty variety with soft, creamy-white flowers just tinged with pink. Penstemons will work hard for you — deadhead them to extract their maximum value.
Pretty, romantic and scented — what’s not like about border phlox? It’s a cottage-garden classic with its tall, airy nature and trusses of sweet flowers. Butterflies like it as well and it makes a good cut flower. Grow in full sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained soil. Powdery mildew can be a problem — cut out any infected material. Breeders are creating more resistant plants such as ‘Glamour Girl’, which has hot coral pink flowers.
Coreopsis ‘Double the Sun’ is a sprinkling of golden sunshine for your patio. Lots of shaggy double yellow flowers will bloom for long periods from spring to late summer. It’s a perennial and does best in full sunshine. Mind it during drought that it doesn’t dry out.
Dahlias come to the fore in late summer, and there’s no shortage of varieties. Single blooms are easier for pollinators to access, and their vibrant colours can be just as dazzling as the plumped-up cactus or peony dahlias. ‘Bright Eyes’ has purple-pink flowers that have a bright yellow centre.
For shady areas, Actaea simplex ‘Brunette’ is a herbaceous perennial, but you may be more familiar with this plant’s former name — Cimicifuga. Elegant wands of creamy pink-tinged flowers rise above chocolate purple foliage, and you, as well as bees and butterflies, will be attracted to its sweet scent. It doesn’t like to dry out, so moist, semi-shade is ideal, but it will grow in full sun if watered well. Excellent for providing vertical interest to your planting schemes. For darker, lacier foliage, try the aptly named ‘Black Negligee’.
Also for shady spots, Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ is an absolute delight at the moment, with lots of the most pristine white flowers held on tall stems. Japanese anemones can be invasive — some gardeners call them thugs! But I’m happy for these to spread their charming blossoms as much as they would like.
Impatiens or busy lizzies are old reliables and they are high-performance, low-maintenance plants. Useful for brightening up partially shaded areas, grow in large blocks for maximum impact to line pathways or cram into window boxes.
Alstroemeria Inticancha Dark Purple Lush dark maroon petals in profusion from this Peruvian Lily add an exotic sub-tropical feel to the garden. A favourite with florists, it will also delight in your garden by its longevity. Grow this perennial in fertile, moist but well-drained soils in full sun or partial shade. Deadhead by removing the entire stalk from the base as this initiates new stems.
Can you please tell me about any pond plants that koi carp will not devour? Elizabeth
Koi love to root around at the bottom of the pond and will eat most plants. There’s no one species of plants that they don’t particularly like — ideally you need to keep the plants separate from the koi. So you could, if possible, build a shallow shelf in the pond where you can place plants and put a solid barrier of rocks in front to stop the koi getting at them. Some koi keepers recommend feeding the fish with green leaves such as lettuce to keep them away from ornamental plants.
Submit your gardening questions to Diarmuid via his Instagram @diarmuidgavin using the hashtag #weekendgarden