Ten plants to brighten late summer borders

Keep your garden cheerful from summer into autumn with late-flowering, colourful blooms

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight' AGM

This late-flowering shrub bears impressive and long-lasting, cone-shaped panicles of greenish-cream blooms, up to 30cm (1ft) long, held above rich green foliage. Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight' AGM can be used to add a cool, fresh feel to borders that have started to appear a little past their best after midsummer; plants are best in fertile, moist soil in a sheltered site, given some protection from the hot afternoon sun.

Zantedeschia 'Picasso' AGM

Of the many selections of hybrid calla lily, this exotic beauty stands out with its splendid two-tone flowers, each with a mauve throat and cream edge, held elegantly above white-spotted foliage. It's a herbaceous plant, growing each year from tubers which are best lifted in autumn and replanted in spring, although this is one of the hardiest varieties, proving winter hardy in mild gardens. Plant Zantedeschia 'Picasso' AGM in pots on the patio or in borders for a lasting burst of tropical colour in late summer.

Rosa Simple Peach ('Harwarmth')

This simple yet dainty rose is a real winner in gardens. Its charming single blooms are held in clusters and open pink and fade to a delightful peachy-yellow and appear in great profusion over healthy, glossy, dark-green foliage. The blooms begin to appear in late spring and will continue throughout summer, especially if kept deadheaded. It proves disease resistant and reaches around 1m (39in) high. Grow in a sunny but not-too-dry border and mulch plants annually with garden compost.

Thunbergia alata

Cheery, climbing black-eyed Susan is usually treated as an annual; twining stems bear masses of flowers - each with a contrasting dark central eye. Grow in containers trained up canes or use in borders on small obelisks. Plants reach their peak in late summer and will continue to flower until the first frosts. Plant in a sunny spot and keep plants well fed and watered for the best performance.

Gladiolus 'Raspberry Sorbet'

Becoming popular again, Gladiolus 'Raspberry Sorbet' have much to offer gardeners looking for late summer colour as these impressive plants usually reach their peak in August or later. This fine selection is a daintier plant than many of the traditional cultivars bearing pink flowers attractively marked in rose red, held on arching stems to around 90cm (3ft) tall. Plants grow from corms planted in spring - use in sunny beds or borders or even in deep containers.

Crocosmia 'Tangerine Queen'

Fiery Crocosmias are a great choice for adding hot colour to gardens late in the year, and this stridently coloured, tall growing selection to around 1m (39in) is no exception. Crocosmia 'Tangerine Queen' bears showy long lasting flowers of the brightest orange, held on horizontal panicles above pleated, sword-shaped foliage. Grow in a sunny place in fertile well-drained soil, but don't let plants dry out in the growing season.

Phlox paniculata
'Blue Paradise'

This impressive herbaceous plant is distinctive for its heads of large, open, glowing purple-blue flowers that appear in abundance atop dark stems through late summer, a most unusual colour at this time of year. The flowers of Phlox paniculata 'Blue Paradise' are also deliciously scented, an added bonus. Plants need a sunny place in a border, although they tolerate light shade through the hottest part of the day - in dry spells plants may need additional water.


This handsome plant makes a good shrub for a patio container or in sheltered gardens, a plant to train against a warm sunny wall. It produces masses of dainty, yellow, bell-shaped flowers throughout summer, but especially at the end of the season and then on through autumn. Usually, the best policy is to bring this half hardy plant undercover for winter, but it may survive outdoors if mild.

'Delta Sarah'

This hardy fuchsia is one of the most reliable plants for late summer colour, bearing masses of large hanging white and bluish-pink flowers throughout the second half of summer, right up until the first frosts of autumn. Plant it in a sunny border (although it will grow in light shade), or against a wall in colder areas and resist pruning until late spring (once it is growing well) to get the most from it.

'Pensham Czar'

Well known and much loved by gardeners for their displays of flowers, that can last until the first frosts, Penstemon 'Pensham Czar' are essential garden plants. This showy selection is worth growing for its impressively large flowers of purple and white, held on stems to around 60cm (2ft). In mild winters it should prove perennial, especially if grown in a sunny, sheltered and well-drained border, but in colder areas take cuttings in August to overwinter.

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