"I will go pick daisies and have a happy heart." Kimber Annie Engstrom
What would high summer be without some daisy-type flowers? They are pure happiness atop a flower stem! Mid to late summer offers a wide range of this simple flower shape. Let's take a look at a few of them.
This is my front garden back in 2013. I used to have loads of yellow Rudbeckia along the fence back then.
I pulled half of it out looking to add room for early summer flowers, but now that I reflect back at this glorious August display, I am now rather sorry to have been quite so ruthless. Perhaps it is better to shine for a brief time than to look mediocre over the long haul of a gardening season! Sometimes we gardeners have to learn by making mistakes. Now, I'm thinking of swinging back the other way and restoring some of the Rudbeckia.
Yellow Rudbeckia, Pink colored Zinnias, Sweet Potato Vine and blue
colored Floss Flower, Ageratum in a public park.
Floss Flower, Ageratum
Rudbeckia also looks great mixed in with annuals as you see here in this display at a local park. As with most plants you need a big patch of each type of flower to really have an impact.
I have two Rudbeckia cultivars to recommend you might try.
It wasn't labeled but, I am going to guess that this is the popular Rudbeckia 'Goldstrum'.
Rudbeckia 'Goldstrum' has golden-yellow flowers with a black centre. It will easily grow in average garden soil. It likes sun, but is also happy in light shade. Removing spent flowers will prolong the display of blooms into the autumn. This perennial has a slow spreading habit, but is easy to remove where unwanted. Height: 60-75 cm ( 23-29 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.
Rudebckia 'Little Goldstar' was bred to be an improvement on 'Goldstrum'. It blooms profusely on a more compact plant that stands just 14-16 inches tall. It's an easy-to-grow perennial that will prosper in average garden soil with normal moisture conditions. Height: 35-40 cm (14-16 inches), Spread: 35-40 cm (14-16 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.
Echinacea at the Toronto Botanical Gardens.
Echinacea are butterfly magnets. They are also one of those perennials that the plant industry has bred into a zillion different color and flower forms. If you ask me, some of the older cultivars are still the best and most reliable plants, but here are a few of the newer cultivars to tempt you:
Echinacea in the Landscape Ontario Garden.
Echinacea Sombrero 'Adobe Orange' (top left) has overlapping orange petals and a rusty-red cone. It was bred to produce lots of flowers on a compact, sturdy plant. Average garden soil and moisture conditions are fine for this Echinacea. Full sun. Height: 60-65 cm ( 23-25 inches), Spread: 40-45 cm (16-18 inches). USDA zones: 5-9.
Echinacea 'Supreme Cantaloupe' (top right) As its name suggests, this echinacea has cantaloupe-colored petals with rosy-red ray petals at the centre of the flower. Full sun. Height: 55-65 cm (21-25 inches), Spread: 35-40 cm (14-16 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.
Echinacea Sombrero 'Kim's Knee High' (bottom centre) has coral-pink petals with a orange cone. This Echinacea has a compact, bushy habit making it perfect for the front of any flowerbed. Full sun. Height: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches), Spread: 30-60 cm (12-23 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.
Sunflowers are synonymous with late summer. They are annuals but, they are such great self-seeders once you grow them, you almost always have them in your garden.
Plant sunflowers for the birds. Goldfinches and little chick-a-dees adore eating the seeds.
And as an added bonus, sunflowers make great cut flowers!
Helenium and other perennials in a local park.
To be honest, I've struggled a little with this next plant. Where do you place a perennial that comes in such vivid shades of red, orange and yellow? I am still searching for the perfect place to relocate my Helenium to set it off to best advantage.
Perhaps the answer to that ideal spot lies in this next picture.
Heleniums seem to look great against a golden backdrop. That background could be created with an ornamental grass or maybe a non-invasive form of golden rod. In this image, Helenium is paired with the yellow foliage of a Sumac.
Helenium 'Short 'n' Sassy'(on the left) This compact variety of helenium has orange and gold petals with a deep brown centre. Full sun and moist soil are best. Height: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches), Spread: 40-50 cm (16-20 inches). USDA Zones: 4-9.
Helenium autumnale Mariachi 'Fuego' (on the right) is another compact variety of helenium. 'Fuego' has orange-red petals and a golden halo around a deep, coffee-colored centre. Full sun and moist soil are best. Height: 40-50 cm (16-20 inches), Spread: 50-60 cm (20-30 inches). USDA Zones: 3-9.
(Here is a link to an English website that will give you a good idea of the tremendous range of Helenium cultivars that are available.)
Blue salvia mixing nicely with Rudbeckia in a local public park.
Salvia farinacea 'Victoria Blue' is an annual you can find at almost any garden centre.
A few brief words on different varieties of Rudbeckia hirta. These are short-lived perennials that are often treated as annuals. They will sometimes survive a few winters, but are more likely to live on by self-seeding.
Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisy' at the Guelph trial garden.
Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisy'
Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisy' has golden-yellow daisies with a red eye and a black cone. It is fairly drought tolerant once established. Full sun. Height: 45-50 cm (18-20 inches), Spread: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches). USDA Zones: 5-9.
Rudbeckia hirta 'Toto Gold'
As well as the taller cultivars, there some more compact varieties of Rudebckia hirta as well. Rudbeckia hirta 'Toto Gold' and Rudeckia hirta 'Toto Lemon' are two good examples.
Donna's garden in Halifax, Nova Scotia
Pale yellow Coreopsis edges the flagstone pathway in my friend Donna's garden. It's a dainty little daisy-type flower that blooms for ages. Donna tells me she sheers her plants in mid to late July to encourage a fresh round of blooms.
Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam' has soft yellow flowers and fine, ferny foliage. It tolerates heat and humidity well making it a good choice for edging a sunny border. Full sun. Height: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches), Spread: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches). USDA Zones: 4-9.
Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam'
Coreopsis is yet another plant with many variations on a color theme. It is important to note that not all of the new cultivars are as hardy and as reliable as older varieties like 'Moonbeam'. Many of are sterile, so they won't even reseed themselves.
My advice is to confirm the hardiness zone on the plant tag before you make your purchase. If the cultivar in question isn't hardy in your area, think of it as an annual. Here are just a few of the many new cultivars available:
Big Bang Coreopsis 'Star Cluster' (top left) has creamy white daisies that sometimes develop a maroon-purple eye. 'Star Cluster' forms a upright mound of fine, narrow foliage. Plants may require some support, if grown in good garden soil. Full sun and average moisture conditions. Height: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 4-9.
Coreopsis Leading Lady 'Lauren' (top right) has single yellow flowers. It was bred to be floriferous, mildew resistant, cold and heat tolerant. 'Lauren' also blooms earlier than most Coreopsis. Full sun and average moisture conditions. Height: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches), Spread: 30-40 cm (12-16 inches). USDA Zones: 5-9.
Coreopsis 'Dream Catcher' has cool pink daisies with a maroon eye. Full sun and average moisture conditions. This variety is hardier than most pink forms. Full sun. Height: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 5-9.
Annual Zinnias make great companions for late summer daisies and grasses.
Zinnias in a local public park.
Gaillardia bloom for such an extended period in the summer, I regret not having any in my garden. There are many color variations available these days. They like hot, sunny sights and are drought tolerant once established. Dry conditions and normal or sandy soil are best. Here are just three:
Gaillardia aristata 'Arizona Sun' (top left) has orange-red flower petals with yellow tips. Full sun. Height: 20-30 cm (8-12 inches), Spread: 30-40 cm (12-16 inches). USDA zones: 2-9.
Gaillardia aristata 'Arizona Red Shades' (top right) has orange-red flowers. Full sun. Height: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches), Spread: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.
Gaillardia x grandiflora Mesa 'Yellow' (bottom centre) has solid yellow petals and a large golden eye. Full sun. Height: 40-45 cm (18-23 inches), Spread: 40-45 cm (18-23 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.
These pictures have been pulled from a wide range of gardens. It just goes to show you how versatile daisy-type flowers can be.
I hope you have found a little inspiration for your garden in my many examples.
P.S. The latest book winner will be announced shortly!
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