Late Bloomers

By Pam Roy, edited by Bruce Gaudette | Jul 28, 2010
Ahh… this is the time of the year to be out enjoying the garden.  All those early spring and summer hours of weeding have paid off, the planting beds are a riot of color, and the gardener wants to prolong the enjoyment of this color. 

Here are a few suggestions of plants that continue to bloom throughout those late summer days and even into early fall.

Agastache.  A name like that sounds like a plant with some personality! With a long blooming time, the tubular flowers of this perennial come in many colors (apricot, yellow, dark purple, lavender, orange) and attract hummingbirds and bees.  The foliage can be fragrant and airy textured.  Depending on variety selected, heights range from 18-36 inches. 

Another fabulous perennial for late color is Helenium.  Try Helenium ‘Mardi Gras’ for a multicolored flower – yellow petals with splashes of red and a chocolate brown center.

Reaching 36-48 inches tall, it’s worth waiting until August for this display of color.

This may need staking.  Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ is a bit shorter and sturdier, less likely to need staking.  It’s brown center is surrounded by rust red petals.  Give this drought tolerant plant a spot with full sun. 

What gardener can resist Echinacea purpurea or Purple Coneflower for late season color?  Echinacea ‘Hot Summer’ a new introduction for 2010 goes beyond the traditional color with its orange-red florets, growing 36 inches tall and wide.  Situate this plant so it’s backlit in the late afternoon sun and watch the center glow.  Its drought tolerance makes it ideal for the usually dry August weather.

Speaking of orange flowers, Achillea ‘Fireland’ has clusters of deep orange flowers atop its lacy, silvery grey foliage that last into late summer.   Another drought tolerant plant (seems to be a theme for many of these late bloomers), Achillea (yarrow) attracts butterflies to the garden.

In addition to perennial color, there are several shrubs that flower during late summer.
 
A favorite of mine is Hebe ‘Autumn Glory.’  This hebe is hardy to around 10 degrees Fahrenheit  and evergreen reaching 2 feet tall. Blossoms are dark blue  spires with a bit of white at the tips. The foliage is a dark green with small leaves.  This can be a good foreground plant in a mixed border.

Abelia is an evergreen shrub with a long season of bloom, sometimes carrying on through late fall.  With a zone 6 hardiness rating, it may suffer some damage in a very cold winter in our area.  The variety Abelia ‘Kaleidoscope’ features colorful foliage that undergoes seasonal changes with hues of golds, light chartreuse and crimsons. At 2-3 feet tall it can fit into a spot in most gardens. 

The white flowers continue for a long duration. Abelia grandiflora ‘Edward Goucher’ is taller, reaching 3-5 feet. With green leaves, the plant becomes a billowing, spilling mass of light pink flowers.

Head out to your favorite nursery to see these and several other late bloomers that will add some color and interest to your garden this August. 

Pam Roy, owner of Planscapes, has been a landscape designer and horticulturist for 30 years in the Northwest.  Contact her at 425-252-9469 or gallery.mac.com/pnw54

Bruce Gaudette, owner of Land Hoe!, has a degree in horticulture, is an ICPI certified installer of pavers, and is a member of the Executive Board of the state landscape association WALP.  Contact him at 425-742-9417 or landhoe.com.

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