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

Put autumn on hold a little longer

Aster amellus ‘King George’ – daisy-like, lilac-coloured flowers (Gillian Goodson Designs)

Aster amellus ‘King George’ – daisy-like, lilac-coloured flowers (Gillian Goodson Designs)

Only in our wildest dreams could we have imagined this great British summer of 2018, an exceptional summer: a blaze of joy and giddiness (and a few rain dances!). The weather has led by example showing us that certain things really are possible – we just have to believe! Inject the same faith into your attitude and skills in the garden and in life. Stand tall against the thought that something is too late. Believe. Adopt it as your mantra and strive ahead. 

Let’s put a hold on autumn a little longer by extending the growing season with sun- loving, late-flowering herbaceous perennials. The following will add colour and oomph to a contemporary or traditional scheme. 

Try Aster amellus ‘King George’ – a very reliable, daisy-like flower of lilac or violet- blue with golden centres growing to 45cm tall. Asters were confusingly reclassified but A. ‘King George’ has kept its scientific name.

Not as hardy but worthy of its place is Agastache ‘Blue Boa’ (Mexican giant hyssop).

A deeper purple-blue with upright, fat flower spikes. The leaves have an aniseed scent. Both attract bees and butterflies.

Further along the colour wheel, adding colour harmony and flower shape is Helenium ‘Waltraut’ (sneezeweed), orange-bronze with splashes of sun-kissed yellow. For less orange, there’s the melted butter-yellow of H. ‘The Bishop’, or for a deeper orange-red, there’s the magnetic H. ‘Moerheim Beauty’. 

Try also the flattened flower shape of Achillea ‘Terracotta’ with its soft orange fading to ripe wheat tones as it matures. Add energy and turn up the dial with A. ‘Walter Funcke’ – a rich red-orange. Mix them with ornamental grasses and don’t be tempted to cut them down. Leave them over winter if they don’t look too shaggy – they will look striking when the frost bites. Insects will quietly thank you. 

As the weather cools and summer sheds its skin later in the month, remember to harvest strawberries, potatoes, onions and broccoli. Clean and sharpen your secateurs – it’s time to prune and take softwood cuttings. If necessary, divide herbaceous perennials and it’s also a good time to turf or reseed lawns. Plant trees and shrubs.
Embrace September whatever she brings. Sit out and enjoy the shortening days – look up at the stars and lose yourself in the magic.