Bold hues for sum­mer

These un­for­get­table flow­ers are at their vi­brant best over the warmer months.

NZ Gardener - 365 Days of Flowers - - The Summer Garden -

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 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'.

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