Gardens traditionally burst with colour in June and July as many perennial plants reach their peak. Roses are also at their best, and bedding plants in their first flush of bloom. Follow our tips for a beautiful midsummer bloom!

Making space for summer and autumn plants

It's important to remember to leave space for late summer and autumn plants. Don’t despair if you didn’t plant out earlier in the year. Garden centres will still stock many perennials that flower throughout summer, such as geranium (cranesbill), as well as ornamental grasses and other easy-care perennials, such as crocosmia and helenium, in the summer months when they bloom.

Read more about low-maintenance perennials 

 

Lilies for immediate impact

Lilies blooming en mass

Perennials planted in summer, though, will need more watering than those planted earlier in the year. To get them off to a good start, soak the rootball of each plant in a bucket of water before planting. Then dig the planting hole and pour a bucket of water into it so that the soil is really moist. Plant and water again to settle the soil around the roots.

Exotic touch Hybrid lilies have a relatively short flowering season, but their exotic blooms add a note of luxury and are good for instant planting. Some are also highly fragrant. Once planted, lilies will come up year after year, and if left undisturbed their clumps will steadily expand to give more and more blooms.

Although you can buy dry bulbs in autumn and spring, the easiest and most reliable way to purchase lilies is ready grown in pots with several bulbs. A good display is then guaranteed in the first year and planting is simple.

Lilies need well-drained soil rich in humus. Grow them with other plants, such as peonies or shrub roses, that have similar growing requirements and that will help to shade their roots from the hot sun and prop up any leaning, flower-laden stems.

Alternatively, modern hybrids are available that are more compact and are self-supporting, such as ‘Apollo’ and ‘Electra’, although they tend to lack some of the slender grace of their taller counterparts.

 

Easy-care cottage borders

Poppies and daisies in a beautiful British cottage garden

Many perennials and hardy annuals spread by self-seeding to create the ultimate easy-care garden. These self-sown seedlings establish better than pot-raised plants because their roots are not damaged by transplanting. For colour from spring to early autumn, allow self-seeding of Alchemilla mollis, allium, aquilegia, calendula, forget-me-not, foxglove, love-in-a-mist, nasturtium, poppy, wallflower and viola, as well as grasses such as Stipa tenuissima.

Some self-seeders will colonise nooks and crannies in walls; such as, Aurinia saxatile, Corydalis lutea, fairy foxglove (Erinus alpinus), wall daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus) and wallflower. Others will soon form swathes of colour rooted in paving cracks; including, Alchemilla mollis, aquilegia, Campanula portenschlagiana, verbascum and Verbena bonariensis. To enhance this cottage-garden effect, add gravel areas for the self-seeders to colonise with even greater ease.

Read more: 8 flowers to plant for year-round colour

 

20 Summer-perfect plants

Shady scene for walls

The gloom of this shady wall is lightened by using variegated and light-coloured foliage and flowers. The scene is at its best in June and July.

Shaded borders

1. Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea ‘Variegata’

2. Viola ‘Belmont Blue’

3. Astrantia major subsp. involucrata ‘Shaggy’

4. Nicotiana Nicki Series flowers also come in mixed colours

5. Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’

6. Dicentra ‘Stuart Boothman’ flowers open in April

7. Ajuga reptans ‘Variegata’

8. Aruncus dioicus ‘Kneiffii’

 

Pastel shades for sun

A grouping of cool pinks, blues and white to refresh hot summer days, with Rosa ‘Iceberg’ as the background. These light colours also show up well in twilight. Needs a well-drained site. The main flowering season is June to August.

Pastel coloured plants for the sun

1. Rosa ‘Iceberg’ white flowers to September

2. Eryngium x tripartitum flowerheads and spiky bracts remain attractive once flowering is over

3. Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Snowcap’

4. Penstemon ‘Evelyn’ flowers to October

5. Centranthus ruber also white and dark crimson flowers

6. Centaurea cyanus the annual cornflower

7. Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow’ evergreen foliage with flowers opening May to June

 

Colourful scheme for sun

Bright flowers make the most of a hot spot. Many plants need the strong light to bring out colours, ripen wood or initiate flower buds. The flowering season for this scene is June to September.

Colourful sun scheme

1. Achillea ‘Moonshine’

2. Salvia nemorosa ‘Lubecca’

3. Ceanothus x delileanus ‘Gloire de Versailles’

4. Hemerocallis ‘Stafford’ flowers in June or July

5. Heuchera micrantha var. diversifolia ‘Palace Purple’ pink seed heads follow cream flowers
 

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