Famed British gardener/author Christopher Lloyd said of gardening: “Look after late summer and the rest of the year will look after itself.” Here in the U.S., this summer’s oppressive heat and humidity — not to mention a hurricane or two — made the “looking after” quite a challenge. Still, the following plants met the challenge and then some:
Coleus breeders have outdone themselves, producing scores of worthy, vibrant, multi-colored annuals. My Coleus plants, pictured below, flourish in a large north-facing container in shade. I worried when they fell over, pounded down by recent heavy rain. But they just picked themselves up with no help from me and will carry on into Fall.
Another late-summer standout annual is the Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas). Few plants can match its vigorous growth and its versatility. I bought one four-inch pot in May and planted it in a container with a rose. In the blink of an eye, it grew into the flamboyant, problem-free-spiller pictured below. It loves heat and will thrive in sun or shade until frost.
If you plant silver-leaf Pulmonarias, you will delight both in the enchanting early spring flowers and, thereafter, in the elegant simplicity of the foliage pictured below. It’s a win-win perennial. My plants are grown in moist, well-drained, organically-rich, acidic soil in shade. I mix in sharp-edged grit to the planting soil to repel voles.
Many plants produce unique seed heads that add interest and beauty to the late-summer garden. Consider the showy seed heads of several Rhododendrons, which, in time, age to woody-like ornaments—attractive enough to pluck for decorative home display. A happy bonus! Photos below.
Finally, I agree with one of my favorite garden writers, the American journalist/author Celestine Sibley, who wisely said of gardening: “The doing is the thing. And if by some happy chance you should have a little success, ah, the satisfaction that is!”