Nancy Brachey

Add some color to your late-summer flower beds

Japanese anemones come in white, pale pink and rose. This is the variety Honorine Jobert
Japanese anemones come in white, pale pink and rose. This is the variety Honorine Jobert Observer file photo

September is almost here, and not a minute too soon for those of us who are worn out by this hot and humid summer. It seems to have lasted forever.

Not only are humans worn down by the heat, so are flower beds, some looking quite bedraggled.

But not all of them. Some plants whose season is late summer are starting to show fresh blooms that really raises the spirits. I found my Fireworks goldenrod filled with buds just a few days ago and now showing the first sign of its golden yellow blooms. This is a very good goldenrod, one of the modern hybrids that do not t grow too tall – about 3 feet – or spread rampantly.

This is a nice choice that makes a good companion for late-summer asters that can be bought as budded plants and set into vacant spots in a flower bed. The round flowers of asters, especially the blues and violets, look stunning with the golden yellow spikes of goldenrod.

And the black-eyed susans that are still in bloom also work well, even though the contrast is shape and texture rather than bloom color. Fortunately, black-eyed susans, particularly the impressive Goldsturm, are rugged plants than seem to have tolerated the summer of 2015 quite well.

Potted asters tend to be sold as well-budded plants ready to set out and make a show, the same way we select chrysanthemums starting about mid-September. But a lesser known plant can also go into the ground now and bloom into the early fall. This is the Japanese anemone, a wonderful, long-lasting perennial, always valued by those who plant and enjoy it.

This is an easy-to-grow garden flower that gives a fresh look to flower beds in late summer.

The named varieties include Queen Charlotte, Honorine Jobert, Party Dress and Whirlwind, in a range of colors from sparkling white to pale pink and deep rose.

Their colors may seem a bit off-season in late August and September, when most pinks tend be more mauve than in spring, and there is much yellow and gold in flower beds. Don’t be deterred by this because these pale colors will look fresh and new and a nice contrast to the deeper, warmer colors typical of the season.

Japanese anemones bear pretty flowers and attractive foliage too. It is medium green with sharply toothed foliage that looks good in both the garden in with the flowers in a vase indoors. It is generally undemanding.

Most Japanese anemones bear flowers on tall stems, 3 to 4 feet high, rising well above the clumps of foliage. A mature plant, grown over time, will produce many flowers and stems. Set plants in groups, about 3 to 4 feet apart, and give them time to create a nice mass of foliage.

Nancy Brachey: nbrachey@charlotteobserver.com

Ask Nancy

Q. What is the plant I see growing in beds along Tryon Street in Charlotte? It is a yellow-green that grows very flat and spreads.

A. That is creeping jenny, which makes a nice mat with a distinctive color. The varety that is more yellow than green is Aurea. Plants typically spread 2 feet or more so it is not a choice for small, tight spots.

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