Spring and early to mid summer are filled with so many blooming plants and shrubs – it’s an explosion of color. By late summer, though, many gardeners are searching for some fresh blooms. There are perennial stand-bys – echinacea, Black-eyed Susan, agastache, an occasional lavender or day lily re-bloom, phlox, scabiosa – which, depending on rainfall and temperature extremes, may or may not offer color. And in my gardens I still have annuals – petunias, gazania, verbena, salvia, heliotrope, gerbera, morning glories, moonflowers, cosmos, and impatiens – showing off among coleus, dusty miller, petite licorice, and Tricolor and Marguerite sweet potato vines.
But during late summer, new blossoms are always welcome and a few – hydrangea and late blooming stonecrop sedum such as these in the photos to the left and right, plus other stand-bys like sweet autumn clematis, asters, and Rose of Sharon – really stand out.
One of my favorite late summer bloomers is Anemone (commonly known as windflower). In my south-central Connecticut garden, this perennial begins blooming in late August and often continues blooming until frost. Both white and pink flowering anemone offer fresh color in otherwise tired looking beds. My main planting sits in front of a rhododendron bush and receives about 6 hours of sunlight during the peak of summer.
The leafy portion of the plant (shown below) grows about 3 feet high, but the blossoms reach up to 5 and 6 feet. I planted some of the many anemone babies from the mother plant in an area that receives much less sun and has poor soil, and while this planting is shorter (1-2 feet tall), it still produces many blossoms in what would otherwise be an uninteresting location. Deer occasionally nibble on the leaves and blossoms, but in my yard they have not yet completely defoliated the plant.
Consider anemone when seeking ways to brighten up late summer beds. If you have a spot where anemone can spread – which it does via underground runners – let it go. Otherwise be sure to dig or pull out these runners each spring to keep the plant in check. Without control my anemone would easily overrun neighboring clematis, foxglove, and iris. Still, the late summer blossoms make this springtime chore well worth the effort.