Summer planting ideas
Summer is when British gardens are at their very best. Verdant, fragrant and colourful. Here are some summer planting ideas that will take your outdoor space to the next level.
I’m writing this on the hottest day of the year so far. Its times like these that when the day’s work comes to an end I like to retreat to somewhere comfortably cool. And what could be better than being surrounded by nature’s very own air conditioners. Plants.
Natural plants use a process called evapotranspiration to protect their cells from cooking in the hot sun. It’s the horticultural equivalent of perspiration. Basically, microscopic holes on the surface of the leaf, known as stomata, open wide to release tiny amounts of water vapour. As the water vapour evaporates it cools the leaf and the area around it.
To test the phenomena for yourself, hang some wet washing on the line on a sunny day. If you touch it while it’s still wet, it will feel cool against your skin – that’s the lovely effect of evaporation. It’s also why a natural lawn is cooler to sit on than artificial grass, and why we all feel more comfortable sitting in a leafy green garden on a scorching hot day.
Creating your own leafy green landscape
The colour green is known to be relaxing and on a sunny day, being surrounded by leaves is simply blissful.
Here are my ideas for really verdant planting.
- Position plants close together
- Focus on the foliage. Use plants with large leaves for an exotic, jungle feel
- Grasses and strappy-leaved plants are great for a contrasting texture
- Layer your plants, use groundcover plants to shade the soil, ferns to hide the stems of taller plants
- Don’t forget climbing plants – weave them through a screen or let them scramble over a pergola
- Consider a living wall – once established they create an amazing feature and truly benefit the environment
- You can’t beat a natural lawn when it comes to cooling a space. Allow the grass to grow a little longer to help it stay green right through the summer
- Include some pollinator friendly flowers to encourage bees and butterflies to add extra interest
- If you have space, plant some trees. Pleached trees are a great way to introduce tall plants into your garden without taking up much space.
Plant suggestions for a summer garden
Fatsia Japonica: Also known as the castor oil plant. This shrub has large, exotic looking leaves that look amazing all summer long but even better still – it’s frost hardy in the UK. Which means you can enjoy it summer after summer after summer.
Bamboo: A lovely large plant that whispers gently as the breeze passes through it. Always plant bamboo in containers…the roots of some varieties can be quite invasive
Arum Lily (see above pic): This beauty deserves more attention that it gets. Just look at those enormous leaves and those glorious white flowers. I always think that white flowers are especially beautiful after sunset when the moonlight bounces off them.
Heuchera: A relatively low growing foliage plant that is super in the front of a border or in pots. There’s a wide choice of leaf colour, from bronzes, reds, purples, russets and pinks. Gorgeous!
Dahlia: My Grandad used to grow these and in my mind they’ll never go out of fashion. Wonderful blowsy blooms in rich jewel-like colours. Choose varieties that co-ordinate with foliage plants in your garden. They’re great at giving a little pop of colour.
Russian Sage: This one is for the bees! Tiny, pale purple colours adorn the fronds of this robust plant. It has small leaves that smell divine when crushed. I find that cool colours such as white, blue, lemon or purple are easy on the eye and create quite a relaxing atmosphere.
Common Laurel: Not an exotic plant at all but laurel has the most amazing shiny evergreen leaves. It’s a tough plant and works well as a stand alone shrub underplanted with groundcover. It works really well as a hedge too. Evergreen hedges are great value. They add structure to the garden all year round, and provide cooling summer shade for plants, pets and people.
The laurel hedge provides a great background for the plants and features in this summer garden in Rodney Stoke. I also love the way it blends into the treescape beyond the boundary.
What will you plant in your garden this summer?
Before you trot off to the garden, I published a blog earlier in the year about getting best value when buying plants. Please read it – it might save you some money!
And please be sure that you can water the plants once you’ve bought them home – they need to be well hydrated for evapotranspiration to do its work.
Need some ideas for making more of your summer garden?
These articles might help – or why not get in touch to discuss a complete garden makeover that will give you all year round pleasure.