COLUMN: Choose your perennials for summer colour

By adding some very special mid-season perennials, you can make an enormous difference to the whole look and feel of your summer garden...

By adding some very special mid-season perennials, you can make an enormous difference to the whole look and feel of your summer garden. Because many other garden plants may be on their way out, these perennials will look good while tolerating the intense summer heat, drought and occasional heavy rainfalls.

At the very top of my list of favourites are the rudbeckias. The tender perennial varieties provide yeoman service at this time of year, especially the compact R. ‘Becky’ series, and the smaller flowered, low growing variety named after Dorothy’s dog in the Wizard of Oz, Toto. This is their time to shine. Perhaps one of the finest of all the rudbeckias is the truly hardy variety R. ‘Goldsturm.’ Growing about two feet high with deep golden petals surrounding a dark brown button, ‘Goldsturm’ just keeps pouring out the colour well into October. Rudbeckia ‘Early Bird Gold’ is truly two weeks earlier for fast colour and the new dwarf Rudbeckia ‘Gold Star’ forms a low round ball of amazing colour.

Echinacea has been more recently sold as a herb because of its healing properties, but it also has exquisite flowers.  ‘Echinacea purpurea’ is sold as the herbal variety, but pink E. ‘Magnum’ and the white flowering ‘White Swan’ are classy looking plants that add an unique quality to summer gardens.

They last well, even tolerating some frost, and the spent blossoms make interesting dried flowers.

There are all kinds of new colours, like ‘Tomato Soup’ and ‘Hot Coral Salsa’, and the new ‘PowWow Wildberry’ and ‘White Berry’ are so prolific and stunning – they are a continuous source of colour. The new E. ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ is a great plant, having lovely warm prairie colours.

In shady spots or in full sun, perhaps the most elegant of all the summer perennials are the Japanese anemones. In colours of white, pink or dusty rose, these plants are a definite hit at this time of year.