As summer days start to draw in, you might think gardens are past their peak season, but on the contrary, many come into their own in the late summer. We asked the head gardeners at a selection of participating 2-for-1 gardens for their top tips for planting stunning late summer colour...


Sir Harold Hillier Gardens

Head Gardener: Fran Clifton

Favourite plant? Scutellaria incana is a lovely North American perennial, commonly known as the Skullcap. It's usually blue, however, can vary in shades of light to darker tones. Self-supporting and sturdy, it doesn't need any support even in strong winds.

Top tip? To keep flowers going as long as possible, you ought to keep the moisture level as balanced as possible, such as using a layer of mulch. Compost or even wood chip (well-seasoned) will not only help to suppress the weeds, but retain moisture too.

Where to look? Centenary Border is certainly top of the list, closely followed by the pond and of course Hydrangea Walk.

Borde Hill Garden

Head Gardener: Andy Stevens

Favourite Plant? Phygelius ‘Funfair Coral’ (Cape fuchsia) with arching spikes of coral purple trumpet flowers. It’s a resilient woody perennial plant and does well in our rich clay soil. It's an attractive plant with good green foliage, ideal for the front of a border or in a container.

Top tip? Watering regularly and for a long period, at night or in the early morning. Mulch well for water retention and for feeding the plant.

Where to look? In the Mid-Summer Border (which is south-west facing) and in the beds outside the greenhouse, where it's sheltered and sunny.


Head Gardener: Jonathan Pearce

Favourite plants? The brightly coloured daisy-like flowers of echinacea has to be up there. They add great structure and are always a crowd-pleaser here.

Top tip? A good mulch in spring will prevent plants from drying out in the summer. It also helps stop the flowers going over too soon later in the year.

Where to look? We are lucky enough to have a garden which peaks in late August/September. The Millennium Garden designed by Piet Oudolf is 20 years old this year, and still looks as good as when it was first planted.

Scampston Walled Garden

Head Gardener: Andy Karavics

Favourite plants? Grasses like Molinia caerulea ‘Poul Petersen’, which are striking when they flower in autumn.

Top tip? Give the plant the right requirements from the start. Plant it in the right place and feed it with enough nutrients for its best performance late in the year.

Where to look? The whole garden has very good late colour, especially the Molinia Wave Garden and the perennial meadow.

The Picton Garden

Owner: Helen Picton

Favourite plants? Has to be asters, as we grow over 400 varieties! Aster amellus ‘Vanity’ is a real showstopper with its purple-blue flowers.

Top tip? Plant a broad range and make sure some are late-flowering plants, not just long flowering, so there is always something fresh coming.

Where to look? From late August onwards, our herbaceous borders are at their peak, and as the season advances the woodland areas bring extra colour.

Arley Hall & Gardens

Head Gardener: Gordon Baillie

Favourite plant? The bright-yellow flowers of Sinacalia tangutica looks superb at this time of year. The flowers are followed by fluffy seedheads.

Top tip? Use a potassium-rich liquid feed as soon as plants start to flower to prolong
their flowering period.

Where to look? With asters, phlox, rudbeckias and sedums, Arley’s Herbaceous Border is still full of colour even at this stage of the year.

Great Comp Garden

Head Gardener: William Dyson

Favourite plants? Salvia concolor peaks in September and October, with a big show of deep-blue flowers.

Top tip? Regular deadheading. And if you pruned your Mexican salvias in July, they will keep going for longer.

Where to look? The central parts of the garden and the Italian garden look incredible. The Golden Border is still in bloom and the ruins are backed by the woodland area’s early autumn colour.

Eltham Palace

Head Gardener: Karen Clayton

Favourite plants? The asters, echinaceas and heleniums in our herbaceous border are an end-of-summer pick-me-up.

Top tip? Cut back summer-flowering perennials in late spring to keep your borders going for longer.

Where to look? Eupatoriums, rudbeckias and salvias stand out in our herbaceous border. Also, our woodland garden has drifts of Japanese anemone.


Discover more fantastic gardens to visit in our 2-for-1 scheme, remember to check our 2-for-1 garden visit status page for weekly updates before travelling to ensure the garden is open during this time...