Bold hues for summer
These unforgettable flowers are at their vibrant best over the warmer months.
The most memorable heavyweights deliver their punch through strong architecture and bold blooms. Just think of the classic, almost-gaudy gladiolus, the emboldened bearded iris and the luscious lilium. All are summer-flowering gems with big blooms.
Papaver orientale flowers on and off from late spring through to autumn. Its silky blooms come in vibrant or pale shades, ruffled or straight-edged, or crepe paper-wrinkled. These perennial poppies grow best in full sun to light shade and rich, free-draining soil.
While most flower in spring, the tall types (70cm+) bloom from late October into early summer. Dwarfs (to 20cm high) and standard dwarfs (21-40cm) bloom late September to early October, intermediates (41-70cm) flower early to mid October, borders (41-70cm) bloom late October to early November.
Tuberous begonias flower for months, from spring to autumn. They need plenty of light but sufficient shade to prevent sunburn. Feed with phostrogen through the growing season and keep well watered. Remove the smaller female flowers to encourage the large, showy male blooms.
GLADIOLI FOR CUTTING
Gladioli used to be thought of as old-fashioned but the vibrant new colours are gaining popularity. They’re excellent cut flowers and will flower over several months if you stagger the planting. The corms can be planted as early as July in warmer areas, but in cooler regions, wait until mid to late August. Plant corms up until December. If planted in August they’ll take 120-150 days to bloom; in summer they take only 80-90 days. Plant in full sun.
The beautiful trumpets of summer lilies instantly create a touch of class. There are three common types: Asiatic lilies (bright oranges, yellows and reds, but no scent), Trumpet lilies (distinct trumpet shape, fragrant) and Oriental lilies (highly fragrant). Asiatics flower from late November or December, Trumpets from around Christmas time, and Orientals typically from January/february to March. While all like their heads in sun, they prefer cool roots, so mulch.
Summer bulbs provide some of the most spectacular colour of the entire year, including these long-lasting blooms.
Gladioli are the stand-out blooms in this summer arrangement, which includes echinacea, cotinus, berberis and euphorbia. Don't forget the huge benefit of adding foliage as a filler, especially coloured foliage. Cotinus and berberis have deep burgundy and red-wine leaves respectively, which bolster an arrangement tremendously. Euphorbia leaves are typically lime- or blue-green, though some have bronze-burgundy foliage, like Euphorbia dulcis 'Chameleon' or red-tinged foliage like Euphorbia griffithii 'Fireglow'.