Perennials for late colour

At last, after writing about the lack of them, we have good numbers of butterflies in our garden! They are beginning to appear on warm, calm days – the poor things, like us, have not had enough of these! The range of species is definitely down this year, but they bring another dimension to the garden with their bright colours and movement. Along with bees and hoverflies, they are feeding on their favourite plants that include summer flowering shrubs and a range of late flowering perennials – so important for these and other insects.

The Buddlejas always attract plenty of butterflies including Red Admirals and Peacocks and they have been busy on the new ones that I planted earlier in the month, as well as several others we have around the garden. With plenty of dead heading to remove the brown flower spikes, before they seed everywhere, more flowers will be produced for later colour and hopefully more butterflies! Near to one of our Buddlejas is a patch of self seeded Verbena bonariensis in full flower, the flat mauve flowers attracting lots of bees and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies amongst others. The flowers waft in the breeze and the insects cling on, determined to get their fill of nectar. I like to leave the seed heads on for the birds in the autumn and also because they seem to seed easily around our garden; often a seedling will spring up in a perfect position!

The new Asters that I purchased are doing very well and the bees love them. Asters really are the stalwarts of our late border colour and we have chosen varieties that will flower from now until October. Aster divaricatus is first to flower from late July in our garden, its starry white flowers tumbling over a terrace under some Birch Trees. It is an excellent Aster for dry shade, whereas most prefer retentive soil and sun to do well. Aster ‘div’ as we call it is followed by others that include ‘Little Carlow’ with tall upright growth and true blue flowers that have dark centres, and ‘Winston S Churchill’ a beautiful deep magenta red double with a contrasting yellow centre. All make excellent cut flowers as well as being food plants for a huge range of butterflies and other insects.

My Rudbeckia Goldsturm, spurred on by the rain, has spread into a sunny sheet of brown centred daisies that will flower until the end of September. We also have a much taller growing variety called ‘Herbstsonne’ (Autumn Sun) that reaches over two metres and has lemon yellow flowers with the same drooping petals but a limy green central cone that adds to its charm. We have it planted behind some double white Japanese Anemones and the two create a cool combination amongst the vibrant orange of a late Red Hot Poker and the bright golden daisies of the lower growing ‘Goldsturm’.

Now….. where did I put my Observer’s book of Butterflies?

Happy gardening!

Mr McGregor


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