Plant flowers now for all-year colour
Summer flowers are busy setting seed, sometimes in their thousands, to ensure their continued survival.
For autumnal colour in the flower bed, we ought to mimic nature’s example.
One of the most loved of the self-sown flowers is the viola, with its wide range of colourful blooms.
Heartsease is one name for one variety of this cheery little companion which is also known as johnny jump-up, love-in-idleness or wild pansy. It flowers all through the warm months and when the weather gets cold, it does not succumb to the frost.
After flowering, the plant sets seeds and new plants will continue to pop up year after year.
If you missed getting sweet peas in for summer flowering, get them in while the weather is warm, for a show in late autumn.
These scented and beautiful flowers have a timeless quality that sees them forever popular both in the garden and the vase.
Cornflowers and cosmos look delightful now and any you already have will have seed ripe for collecting and sowing or left to fend for itself.
In patches between perennials is the place to sow annuals so there is a natural progression of flowering times from one plant to another.
A bed of just one type of plant can be an all or nothing situation, from seeds to the spent plants at the end of its season, so aim to mix it up a little with various plants poised to flower in each season.
There are many other seeds to sow now for autumn colour and spring flowering later.
Later sowings of other appropriate seeds will produce blooms for winter.
Virginian stock seeds sown now will flower come autumn and right through winter, as will the enchanting night-scented stock.
Linaria is a sweet little filler plant native to Morocco.
It also has the virtue of being a quick grower, so seeds sown now will produce flowers in a quick time and continue throughout autumn and winter.
Sowing seeds in summer has the disadvantage in that they require regular watering, but for those who collect rainwater for the purpose and have a handy watering can, this is a small issue and worth the effort.
Seeds that sit dormant in dry soil will sprout away when the rains come, but seedlings that have started will soon wither up and die if water is withheld.
It is false economy to sow seeds, water them in, then forget them.
Scabiosa has a pretty face, despite its less-than-flattering name. and is another plant that will flower in late autumn.
It is a favourite of bees, so useful for boosting the food supply as the weather cools and other food becomes scarce.
For rockeries, sow seeds of alyssum and plant portulaca for some vibrant colour.
There is a miniature aster that is suitable for rock gardens and these seeds can be sown now to flower in the coming months.
Trees and shrubs have filled out as much as they are going to this season, so you might like to consider gaps and think about where you could plant new specimens when the autumnal weather turns wet and cool.
Cuttings taken and grown on in pots throughout summer might be ready to pop in the garden in autumn, unless you are going to leave them potted up through winter to get better established roots.
You can take soft wood cuttings of many shrubs throughout summer and let them grow roots over autumn and winter.
In the spaces you might have planned for these new shrubs, why not sow a few seeds for colour in the meantime.
Pretty as a picture: Violas make a pretty show around a focal point such as a sculpture.