Meet the stars of late summer
Keep borders brimming with texture, shape and colour as the season slows. Val Bourne shares her advice on planning ahead
September is many a gardener’s favourite month because it has a jewel-box quality all of its own. The evenly balanced days and nights seem to cast a magic spell and heavy dews refresh and revive, giving gardens a second lease of life. As watering begins to wane, there’s more time to enjoy warm afternoons, with a couple of months of colour still to come before the cold weather finally intervenes. You’ll get misty mornings and mellow afternoons and, as the days shorten, the light takes on a crystal-clear clarity. Even pale colours, like that of lavender aster ‘Little Carlow’, shine out in September light. These changes in day length prompt southern-hemisphere plants to perform better than ever, because these pigment-packed lovelies are used to longer nights. South American firecrackers, such as dahlias, salvias, cosmos, fuchsias, verbenas and penstemons, are all at their best now and will perform until the frosts arrive. They’re often the last flowers standing on a November day. Woody-stemmed North American prairie perennials begin to shine now too. Asters, rudbeckias, eupatorium, helianthus and solidago all belong to the insect-friendly daisy family and are mainstays of the autumn border.
❤ At their peak in September, dahlias keep performing until the first frosts arrive
September is rudbeckias’ month to shine