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HEAVENLY HERBACEOUS Summertime is flowertime and the best displays are achieved with herbaceous perennials.  These are plants that grow and flower during the summer, die down for winter, but reappear the following spring.  The range of colours and sizes of flower shapes is huge, so there should be something to suit everybody. Daisy shaped flowers are always popular and there are plenty of options.  Gaillardia, with yellow and red flowers, is a long flowered species from late spring until autumn.  Leucanthemum, are part of the Chrysanthemum family, providing large flowers, mainly in white but also in pale yellow. Heights vary from 30 centimetre to one metre. Coreopsis are yellow but vary between fine feathery foliage and broader leaf shapes which also have yellow flowers although varieties such as ‘Walter’ and ‘Astolat’ have dark centres.  If you prefer spikes of flowers then there are options here too.  Veronicas are available in blue, pink and white, all have slender spikes of flowers which are very popular with bees. Salvias have similar looking flowers, maybe slightly larger and are mainly shades of blue with a soft blackcurrant scent. ‘Caradonna’ is one of the striking varieites with deep blue flowers and purple- black stems.  Lythrum or Loosestrife prefer damp conditions and exhibit long spikes of pink or mauve flowers.  Varieties to look out for, include ‘Firecandle’ and ‘Rocket’.  Campanulas or Bellflowers are mostly blue, but are available from groundcover such as ‘Miss Resholt’ or ‘E.A. Frost’ to lactiflora forms and a tall species such as ‘Blue Bloomers’.  These are suitable for sun and shade. Hemerocallis or Day Lilies, so called because each individual flower only last for one day, have large funnel or trumpet shaped flower and are available from white to purple-black.  They produce many flowers so don’t worry about the one day issue. Scent can be provided by Phlox paniculata varieties again available in many colours around sixty to ninety centimetres in height.  For added variety, don’t discount Lavender for scent and bee attraction. Hardy fuchsias can add another dimension, providing very long flowering and a different range of colours especially red and some interesting foliage colour, including golden yellow. Agapanthus or ‘Lily of the Nile’ provide stunning shades of blue in July and August.  Although not all together hardy, especially in recent winters, a little extra protection or growing them in pots is well worth it for the show they give. Looking ahead to late summer and autumn, give consideration to Rudbeckia, golden yellow flowers with black centres, a recommended variety would be ‘Goldsturm’. Sedums with their clusters of pink flowers are very popular with bees and especially butterflies, look out for ‘Autumn Joy’ and ‘Brilliant’ Lastly Asters or Michelmas Daisies, are Autumn specialists available in short or tall varieties, they all have daisy shaped flowers in white, pink, blue or purple, loved by bees and butterflies – look out for ‘Jenny’ or ‘Lady in Blue’ for shorter stems or ‘Little Carlow’ for tall. This is just a taste of what is available to provide a riot of colour over the next few months – Please ask at you local nursery or garden centre for more options. Phil Dunnett