August can be a riot if you know how to use colour to best effect and increase the artistic drama of your garden
It used to be said that August was a flat month in the garden with plants looking tired and lacking in colour. That’s just not the case any more thanks to garden centres now stocking a range of plants that are at their best at this time of year. My garden reflects this with orange, red and yellow sitting jazzily next to cooler blue.
This year’s dry July means plants that grow wild in hot countries have done well: dahlias, penstemons and sages from South America, agapanthus from South Africa. As well as perennials that like heat, I grow annuals for impact, filling containers or putting them into any spaces in the already full borders. For the past two summers my cosmos have produced lots of foliage but only flowered really late. This year because of the drought they started flowering in July – a case of some like it hot!
By using artist’s colour theory you can increase the drama of your garden. “Simultaneous contrast” refers to the way that two colours affect each other and changes our perception of each of them. Try placing red next to green, purple next to yellow, and orange next to blue and you’ll see the effect for yourself. For example, a blue agapanthus looks amazing when teamed up with orange heleniums.
Many annuals reach their peak now. Sunflowers stand tall, dahlias flower abundantly providing you deadhead them, and zinnias and tithonias have vibrant colour. Alstroemerias, or Peruvian lilies, are perennials that make long-lasting cut flowers – just remember to pull the stems rather than cut them to stimulate more growth. Buddleias pour their scent into the air and are crowded with butterflies. Red hot pokers come in a range of lovely colours.
Rudbeckias vary in height from a couple of feet to over head height. The most commonly available variety is ‘Goldsturm’ with large golden-yellow daisies with black centres – its common name is Black-eyed Susan. Flowering for a long time, it’s a great one for butterflies and an essential late summer flower for a colourful garden.