Don't say goodbye to summer too soon. Thanks to today's warmer climate, summer now stretches into early October, and the traditional midsummer floral display seems like a flash in the pan.
Where once we threw all the big guns at June and July, you now need a second set of late-flowering plants to see you through September and October. Turn up the heat and try our plant choices to keep your borders looking good until the first frosts.
Perennials that peak in late summer are wide-ranging, as are shrubs and climbers. Most fashionable annuals, exotics and tender perennial patio plants should also stay in flower until late-September, or even early October, if properly looked after.
Don't forget ornamental grasses, which can lift a border into the designer league. And don't forget to grow a few spare plants in pots, so you can slot them into gaps that may appear in a scheme.
Here's how to keep the colour going in your borders.
Penstemons have short stems of large bell-shaped flowers in purples, pinks and blues that flower for a long period. They're drought tolerant and pretty hardy, although it's still advisable to take cuttings as a back-up, which you can then overwinter. Cut back plants in spring.
Ceanothus 'Autumnal Blue'
Ceanothus 'Autumnal Blue' (Californian lilac) is reliable, evergreen, easy to grow and doesn't need pruning. An old favourite, it is covered in billowing deep-blue flowers from early July to the end of September.