Designing with Summer Flowers

The highlight of any summer is the colourful display of blooms that fill gardens around the land. Summer time is the peak of the flowering season and is the one time that the entire garden is putting on its best display. Working with summer flowers can be both a joy and a chore as sometimes we can try to overdesign or over think our planting plans

There is so much that you can know about your garden plants to help design the perfect border, but sometimes all this information can be mind boggling. Some things to consider about your summer flowers and plants are the following:

  • Final Height
  • Flower Colour
  • Flowering Period
  • Preferred Location
  • Growth Rate
  • Leaf colour, shape & texture
  • Habit

There are a few tips and advice to help you get the most out of your summer flowering plants

Working with height

Summer flowering plants vary in size from as little as 10cm to over 2M. The range are greatly affect the look of your borders and when we see plants growing neatly in a garden centre it can be hard to imagine the extent to which they can grow. The tallest of plants such as verbena, some dahlias, verbascum and delphiniums should not be used in beds narrower than 2M otherwise they appear too imposing. Tall herbaceous plants should be placed towards the back of borders and in long drifts or punctuating clumps

Working with Colour

The colour wheel is a handy tool to help decide which summer flowering plants work best together. As colours evoke emotions, the colours you chose will determine the mood and feel of your garden. All blues & whites produce a calm, even melancholic feel while vibrant reds, yellows & oranges give an energetic and high intensity feel. With colours you can combine or contrast and to do so you should refer to the colour wheel for help

Flowering periods

The most common mistake that we gardeners can make is to go to the garden centre and only buy plants that can currently in flower. This impulse to purchase the show stoppers means that we can pay little attention to flowering over the course of the year. The key is to not only to have colour all year round, but also to have similar colours flowering at the same time.
Spring colours generally come in yellows and there is a whole range of bulbs & flowering plants to choose from. Summer offers the widest range of colour while autumn can be a delight with late flowering plants such as Echinacea, Sedums, Dahlias and Cosmos

Leaf types

Foliage should play a huge roll in plant decision making. Because most flowering plants only flower for 3 months, it’s the other 9 months where the plant’s foliage takes centre stage. Foliage, like flowers, can influence the style and mood of a planting plan.

Leaf shape: Bold foliage such as Heuchera, Hellebores, Bergenia, Gunnera and Rheum offer a contrast too more delicate foliage such as phlox, asters, campanulas or lavender.
Leaf textures can be used to your advantage with the range of soft, flurry, grassy, leathery and succulent types of leaves allowing you to contrast and match different types.
Leaf colour makes the biggest impact and green is not the only colour on offer. Silvers of Lavender, Santolina, Stachys and Perovskia look great mixed with greens or in contrast to bronze of Heuchera, Sedums, Cannas and Astilbes

Growth Habit

This is key to a planting plan with good harmony. Your summer flowering plants should rise and fall, spread and clumps together to form a connective pattern that is pleasant on the eye. Growth habit is the space which your plants take and include; clump forming, spreading, spiky, ground cover, arching, columnar and spherical. These plants should be treated like basic building blocks and positioned throughout your border to create a flowing and balanced design