Flowers on Friday

Japanese Anemones make their presence known in September. These pretty flowers are very attractive to pollinators too. The term Japanese anemone is misleading.  Anemone hupehensis is actually a native of  Hupeh province in eastern China, but it was grown in Japanese gardens for centuries, hence the confusion.

Colours vary from the purest of white and the palest pinks through to deep pink. They can be grown in good light or dappled shade and  like many Asian plants, are used to summer rainfall and good winter drainage so these anemones need fertile soil that does not become waterlogged in winter.

Although they may look delicate these flowers can survive with minimal maintenance once established. With a blooming time of 6-8 weeks they are an obvious plant for late summer to autumn gardens and look good in cottage gardens, coastal gardens or a more naturalised, prairie style planting among grasses and other autumnal planting.

Anemone x hybrida ‘Pamina’

Flowers on Friday

One of the most dramatic flowers at this time of the year is the golden Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’.  Also known as ‘Black-eyed Susan’ with large, golden-yellow, daisy-like flowers up to 12cm (5in) across with cone-shaped, blackish-brown centres from August to October.

This knee-high plant bridges the gap between summer and autumn providing welcome colour to the garden. Best planted in drifts among other late flowering perennials, Rudbeckia works well in prairie-style schemes with ornamental grasses. They like a sunny spot and to be kept moist especially when in flower.

Bees, butterflies and other pollinators love it too.

White-tailed bumblebee. August 2019. Click image to enlarge.

Flowers on Friday

In late summer it is the turn of the hotter colours to take pride of place in the garden. The pinks and purples of earlier months are now starting to look tired and dusty. Orange, yellow and red herald the turning point in the garden, a last hurrah! Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora  is a garden hybrid of C. aurea and C. pottsii, first bred in 1880 in France by Victor Lemoine. This hybrid between two species of this lovely South African genus, a cross aimed at producing a select plant with adequate hardiness, is known to gardeners as “Montbretia.”

The sword-like leaves and brilliant wands of fiery scarlet, red, orange, and yellow flowers add dramatic structure to the garden and look particularly good grown alongside grasses and other tall flowers like Kniphofia and Rudbeckia or Helenium.

Crocosmia “Lucifer” (below) has sprays of vivid red flowers on stems to 1.2m in height. Others are lower growing, but may need support as they can flop around.

Crocosmia “Emily McKenzie” is a particularly delightful plant with arching spikes of yellowish-orange-red freesia like flowers.

Those left to their own devices tend to dwindle into congested, grassy clumps, but if you dig up a clump you will see that the corms build up on top of each other. Twist off the topmost corm which is the one taking in the energy from this year’s foliage and replant these in a shallow trench a few inches apart and a few inches deep. In spring add achilleas and grasses to mix with them and create a naturalistic planting style. Dispose of the old corms carefully. Normal compost heaps will not be hot enough to break them down so you might find a garden full of them in the future!

Here in Cornwall, during the months of August and September, the vigorous Montbretia can be found growing wild in clumps in the Cornish hedges. Escapees find themselves in my garden!

Flowers on Friday

Annuals come into their own this month and none more colourful than the Cosmos which was introduced into this country in 1800 from Mexico. These big, bright and beautiful daisy-like flowers come in many colours and heights. The most common variety C. bipinnatus with large yellow-eyed daisy flowers in the burgundy-red-pink-white colour range include the taller ‘Purity’ that will grow to 1.2m and suited to the back of the border. The shorter varieties like ‘Apollo’ are good to grow in containers and new types include ‘Xanthos’ the first yellow-flowered variety. Keep the containers fairly large though as even the shortest plants reach 45cm tall and as much across.

Varieties derived from C. sulphureus have smaller flowers in scarlet, orange and yellow shades set against slightly broader, darker leaves. [unfortunately I do not have any images of this type]

C. atrosanguineus is the Chocolate cosmos which is hugely popular with richly chocolate-coloured, and chocolate-scented, flowers. This is a half-hardy perennial that develops tubers like those of a slimline dahlia and may need to be overwintered indoors. This is also a good candidate for containers.

Cosmos enjoy plenty of sunshine and any reasonable soil, although rich, moist conditions encourage exuberantly leafy growth at the expense of flowers. If you ensure to deadhead throughout summer into early autumn, you’ll continue to get beautiful flowers right through the season.