Late summer in the city

I really like to feel the seasons, feel them with all my senses. That’s why our garden is carefully planted in successional layers. Not only to provide continuous colour and habitat for wildlife but to exaggerate the seasons. There are two signs that late-summer has arrived here. When the plants in our garden are of such a size, they flop and fold into and upon one another, and when their colours intensify.

This is when I love our garden the most because it’s when all of the colours, textures and shapes I’ve considered for so long really merge into one another and in some cases glow. A palette of paint starting to smudge, a process I know lasts throughout the coming Autumn.

Dahlia ‘Bishop of Canterbury’. Single dahlias are useful for pollinating insects.

How your garden looks at this time of year comes down to the plants you choose to grow and how you look after them. By growing enough late-summer flowering plants like dahlias, your garden will really only just be getting going now, although their foliage looks fresh earlier in the year.

Echium pininana ‘Pink Fountain’ has grown a little too well in the top bed, muscling other plants out the way

All of this abundance does have problems that you need to deal with. The biggest task, after dead heading to keep flowers coming, is supporting plants. We’re moving into a season of heavier rain storms and gusts of wind, and the weight of the plants themselves can all lead to flopping and snapping. Do nothing and the plant will probably continue growing on its side but shade out other plants beneath. Every day I check for plants that may need an extra cane tucked in under their leaves to tie them onto.

Pelargonium sidoides and Solenostemon ‘Burgundy Wedding Train’ an accidental combination.

With all of this going on it can be difficult to think ahead to the future but I have now begun planning the garden for next year. Stand back and look at what is and isn’t working, are there some plants to replace? If you haven’t already, order your bulbs soon, I ordered ours a few weeks ago and they’ve just arrived to be planted out between September and November (most earlier, tulips later). Planting later is good because right now, I’d find it very difficult to even find the soil to plant into due to the dense jungle.

Dahlia ‘Moor Place’

I really enjoy the density and height of the plants, it’s not something I would put into a design unless someone particularly wants this effect as it can be overwhelming. It allows me to grow a larger number of plants and it provides me with a total escape. The patio and paths offer voids to move and sit, the rest of the time it feels like I’m swimming through plants.

Our garden has really filled out, many of these plants have self seeded from previous years’ plants, including the Persicaria orientalis, Cleome hassleriana ‘Violet Queen’ and Verbena bonariensis.

With so many plants in a small space and many flowering at this point in the year, wildlife are making a bee-line toward it. Surrounding gardens and parks start to slow down making our garden a real haven from this point. The neon pink probably acts as some kind of wildlife beacon too (not a scientific fact).

Silver Y moth, Autographa gamma, flies to the UK each summer from southern Europe and north Africa.

Making judgements about plants to keep and plants to replace or move always runs through my head and at this point, decisions can be made. The back raised bed for instance played second fiddle to new beds we added earlier in the year. It will have my full attention now! The whopper Echium can’t be grown in the same spot in future, it’s sitting on what should have been a light and airy planting.

Cleome hassleriana ‘Violet Queen’

Although late-summer can still have dry moments, going into September the return of the rain is more guaranteed and the ground kept moist. Less watering one of the reasons I enjoy this time of year so much. Overall I’m pleased with the changes we’ve made to the garden, they’ve made for a lusher and more relaxing space.

Dahlia ‘Pink Giraffe’

3 thoughts on “Late summer in the city

  1. I love your gardens and your allotment. I would have loved to have seen it in person when I was in London last year. But, I did make it from my place near Paddington station to Kew Gardens. I did a fair amount of walking, but it was well worth it. I’ll try to get to London again, this time in May for the Chelsea. And then I want to go to the Physics Garden as well. You and Chris are invited as well.

    1. 😄 yes! He seems to have taken to all of the new spaces very happily. He has a few little nests he’s made for snoozing 😴

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