Discover articles on garden design, seasonal planting tips for your garden and other news and views from Gillian Goodson Designs.

Savour the late summer garden (part 1)

Attractive to bees and butterflies, vibrant  Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ (Gillian Goodson Designs)

Attractive to bees and butterflies, vibrant Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ (Gillian Goodson Designs)

Take Gershwin’s evocative jazz tune, Heyward’s lyrics, add the crooning voice of Ella Fitzgerald, and you have the ingredients for August… ‘Summertime and the living is easy…’ 

It may very well be the last month of summer but don’t let August be anti-climatic and fizzle. Add zest with late summer colour and interest. Squeeze out every last ounce and milk every last drop of summer while it’s here. Bottle some of this record-breaking summer for distant grey days but in the meantime, get out there! Add lanterns for soft mood lighting in the garden and enjoy the last Bank holiday for some months to come. End the summer holiday on a high. 

Let late summer colour explode and create a symphony in your garden. Add fire with the coppery-red tones of Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ (sneezeweed). The daisy-like flowers will thrive in full sun and happily mingle and flutter with the likes of aptly named Achellia ‘Terracotta’ (yarrow) and sociable ornamental grasses.

Another firecracker, or in this case, red-hot poker, that will add drama and height to your borders is zingy-orange Kniphofia uvaria, definitely not one for hiding in a quiet corner. For a shorter choice, try the beacon-like brightness of Kniphofia ‘Ember Glow’. 

Balance the brightness with background, cooling greens such as Tilia cordata (small- leaved lime) with its heart-shaped leaves, subtle ivory flowers and a heavenly scent that wafts on the breeze and carries you from late July through to August. It is a native tree that will attract bees and insects but not one for small gardens or exposed sites. 

If big and blousy flamboyance makes your mouth water then tempt those taste buds with Hydrangeas in August. There are some super new rising stars such as Hydrangea paniculata ‘Little Lime’ (‘Jane’), which starts as a refreshing lime green and fades to cream then blush pink. For astonishingly large, white flowerheads, look out for H. paniculata ‘Phantom’ – striking! 

The usual summer jobs of watering, dead-heading, harvesting, pruning, weeding and feeding continue. It’s time to start planning and planting autumn and winter vegetables from purslane to kale. The choices are yours. 

Let’s end August as we started with the lyrics of Summertime:One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing…you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky.’ How gloriously uplifting!