Gardens with year round interest: six superlong flowerers to keep the show going
All too often our gardens look wonderful at the start of summer but then start to fade away as the season progresses. Sarah Pajwani from St Timothee garden in Berkshire shares six of her favourite super-long, easy flowerers that keep borders full of interest right through until the first frosts.
Our house sits pretty much in the middle of our garden and probably has more windows than walls – so the garden is something that we are always aware of. It’s therefore really important that it looks good all year round. I love lots of plants but increasingly I value those which have long-lasting interest and are relatively easy to look after – so plants with great structure throughout the winter or plants with fantastic autumn leaf colour and in the summer, it’s wonderful to have plants whose flowers just go on and on.
These are six beautiful plants which I’ve grown for many years and found really easy, really tough and where the flowers just last and last, going on right until the first frosts.
The first two are front of border plants. Gaps in the front of a border are very noticeable so I like to use a mix of foliage plants and flowers that will not need cutting back. These are 2 I have found to be the absolute easiest and best.
The first is Erigeron Karvinskianus – the pretty little daisy that will self seed freely and is hugely drought tolerant – great for edging paths, holding corners and planting around shrubs while you wait for them to grow.
The second is a really long-lasting and easy geranium. Everyone always talks about blue Rozanne but I think Geranium Mavis Simpson is another equally strong performer in pink. She doesn’t really get going until June but then will happily continue to flower until the early frosts. You don’t need to worry about deadheading or cutting back and she is quite low growing so never flops or looks scruffy.
So then, thinking about the middle of the border, in the picture above is another favourite superlong flowerer which is Aster Monch – appearing first in early July and again continuing to flower until November. I love its soft lavender blue but I also love the fact that it needs no staking and never gets mildew. I have a pretty dry garden and even last year, it coped. Here is the same Aster in October mixing now with the Sedums.
And in a different part of the garden, mixing it up with Orange Crocosmia and Echinacea White Swan.
My second mid-border long flowerer is Penstemon. Tall spires in many shades of pink, wine and mauve but the one I predominantly use is Penstemon Raven – a lovely rich and deep wine colour. It mixes well with pinks and blues and equally with oranges, reds and indigos. It does need deadheading to keep on flowering but it’s a relatively quick and easy job to do.
Number five in my top six is Gaura Lindheimerii. People tell me that they find Gaura difficult and shortlived. I placed an order for a long sweep of Gaura in a new border thinking it would be easy and not knowing at that point that the soil would prove to be very heavy clay – and so I thought I was bound to lose them. Not so – they have now come through 3 winters and 4 summers and proved themselves to be one of my most drought tolerant plants – one of the few that did not need a drop last summer – unlike the poor lawn!. They are in full sun and perhaps benefit from being surrounded only by themselves and are well mulched ahead of winter. Given these conditions they have been absolutely glorious from June through to even beyond the first frosts – and no staking or deadheading needed.
And finally, my 6th choice, for unbeatable flower-power, has to be Dahlias. I was slow to try dahlias, partly because some can be just too showy for me but also I was put off at the prospect of having to dig them up, store and then replant them each year. However, I fell in love with Dahlia Arabian Night and so tried leaving it to overwinter in the ground with a good mulch. I now have several dahlias all around the garden and, so far, they have all come through the winter. I do live in Berkshire though so I guess that helps. So here are just a few … Dahlia Arabian Night taken last October, Honka Red and a Pink Cactus dahlia bought as a Garden Centre rescue…
Sarah is opening her garden St Timothee in Maidenhead, Berkshire on Friday 14th June from 11am – 4pm and Saturday 15th June 2pm – 5pm. Admission is £4.50. The garden is also open for visits by arrangement. Click here for full details.