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Two more summer-flowering herbaceous perennials for adding colour and impact to the garden

If you’re looking to add impact to your summer garden, or trying to attract more bees, butterflies and insects to your flower beds, then Ladybrook Nursery would definitely recommend planting Hydrangeas and Agastache Black Adder. Both plants are very attractive, and both will add much-needed colour and scent to any summer border.


Hydrangeas are one of the UK’s most popular garden shrubs. With delicate heads of white, pink and blue flowers, striking autumn colours and great foliage, it’s easy to see why. Many people think of hydrangeas as old-fashioned and dated plants, but the truth is they are now once more very fashionable plants.  Mop head and lace-cap hydrangeas are perhaps best known for their ability to change colour in different soils, but they offer much more than that, and latterly they are starting to be appreciated for their beauty and resilience.

Hydrangeas will thrive in most moist, well-drained soils, so long as they are planted in a cool, semi-shady part of the garden. They are relatively hardy and robust plants, so are perfect for coastal planting, but they don’t like exposed east-facing sites with cold winds. These winds can damage young spring growth. They also don’t really appreciate being too dry or too exposed to prolonged bright sun.

To get the best out of your hydrangea it’s a good idea to work in plenty of organic matter into the soil when planting, and to dress the plant yearly with a muck of organic leafmould or garden compost.  In richer soils there should be no need to give hydrangeas an extra feed. However, in lighter or sandier soils an annual feed with a good organic fertiliser might be helpful. The only thing to remember is that excessive feeding can encourage soft, leafy growth and fewer flower buds, so cation is needed when it comes to feeding.

In terms of pruning and maintenance, hydrangeas are relatively easy to manage. Climbing hydrangeas (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris, and Hydrangea. seemanii) should be pruned after flowering.  Simply remove the spent flower heads and cut back any overgrowth to healthy buds. Shrub hydrangeas, like Hydrangea.macrophylla, Hydrangea.paniculata and Hydrangea.quercifolia should be pruned like any other shrub in early spring.

Agastache-Black-AdderAgastache Black Adder

Agastache, or the giant hyssop, is a clump-forming herbaceous perennial. Black Adder is an upright plant with scented foliage and aromatic leaves and small 2-lipped tubular, lilac to purple bottle-brush flowers. It flowers throughout the summer and early spring. If you want to attract bees, butterflies and insects to the garden, then Agastache Black Adder is the perfect plant of choice. 

Agastache Black Adder is best grown in well-drained fertile soil in full sun, though it will also prosper in average moist soils in partial shade. Once established, Agastache will tolerate heat and dry soils. Plant in well dug prepared soil, and add a little manure or organic matter if possible. Although they are hardy and relatively undemanding plants, Agastache Black Adder does require excellent drainage, particularly if it is likely to be exposed to cold wet winters.

They are generally pest-free plants, though can occasionally suffer from powdery mildew. Prune back stems in late autumn to reduce the risk of wind damage. Prune back stems in spring to promote better flowering, and deadhead spent flowers to promote additional blooming.

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