The Third and Final Act

Although there is at least something in flower for eleven months out of twelve in the garden, in recent years, I’ve come to see a pattern in the flowering that splits the year into three distinct flowering “acts” as part of a theatrical play.

The first begins in spring, the snowdrops are the prelude to all the spring flowering plants and blossom at the start of the year, the daffodils, ornamental cherry and currant, spirea and skimmia, finishing with the end-of act finale, the wisteria.

Ornamental Cherry

There follows a short interlude when the garden for the most part turns green again and people can get up for a loo break and more toffee popcorn, but it isn’t long before the summer act opens with a great big bang as the roses, delphiniums, ceanothus, alliums, pinks, lupins, foxgloves and clematis (the surviving ones) flower. This great ensemble takes us right through the summer, but one by one they gradually finish and fade from the stage and the garden turns green again.

Summer 2013 Garden

As the summer progresses and temperatures fall from “oppressively hot” to “balmy and warm”, the days also start getting shorter and the nights, cooler. This is the cue for the late summer flowering plants to burst onto the scene with lavender, gaura, cupid darts and stargazer lilies all coming into flower.

Late Summer Sun

While plants that flowered earlier in the year are beginning to fade, everyone’s focus is firmly riveted on the stunning stands of stargazer lilies on the patio and around the garden. They are the “big finale” to a garden show that started back in late winter with the first snowdrops pushing through the frozen ground.

Stargazer Lilies in full flower

So this is where we are now. We’re watching the annual grand finale by the stargazer lilies, other flowers are now a memory, but the lavender is bringing up the rear and will carry on long after the lilies have finished.

When even the lavender has gone, we will be left with echoes of summer – as it inexorably descends into autumn – from the very late fuchsias, a little bit of snapdragon and the caryopteris. By the time winter arrives, even those will have gone and then we’re left frantically searching for any signs of flowers in the short, cold and bleak days.

In the mean time, the whole garden is filled with the heady scent of stargazer lilies having spent the day basking in the lazy late summer sunshine. If you miss the season finale, there’s no encore, you’ll have to wait for the next show, due to start in about five months.


  1. What, no asters? No goldenrod? No Japanese anemone?There can be autumn color too, you know. I’m thinking of planting some more lilies, orientals or orienpets, probably not Stargazer though.


    1. Hello Jason, sorry, but my garden’s only tiny and I can’t fit everything I want in it. I would love to have some of those plants you’ve mention (especially the goldenrod), but I still think they would be swept aside by the stargazers.


  2. Sunil, You must be delight how your garden is maturing. All those beautiful plants have served you well from the first act to the final bow! I don’t know what happened to summer (ours was rained out) and I already see some leaves starting to turn. At the market today I saw mums, black cats and pumpkins. I am not ready for fall! Luckily the roses will still be blooming for a couple more months.


    1. Hi Lynn, it’s still pretty early to be thinking about Halloween – it’s two months away! We are getting a very small second flowering on the roses, which I am looking forward to, even though I know they’re not going to be as good as they were in mid-sumer, but anything is a bonus. We were also very worried that we were going to get a non-summer (again) but just at the last moment, we had a good few weeks of clear, sunny weather, which I am very grateful for. All the rain you’ve had should make for a very lush green garden at least, as well as lots of slugs.


  3. I’ve always thought of the garden as a play, too. :o) Unfortunately, mine needs a new set designer and some of the props are ragged. But I have a few divas who will not stop singing and that’s fine with me.


    1. Hi Tammy, the lilies are definitely the divas at this time of year in my garden. Unfortunately they don’t sing for long and are gone all too quickly, the time when they are on stage, they’re screaming their heads off!


  4. I am dizzy with the smell of those lilies – just imagining! Your play is well received!!
    Yes, you do have to pluck up the courage to give the dahlias a go! Even if it is just one superb dahlia, that you treat like an annual, not worrying about digging it up. But once you are treated to their late Summer and Autumn splendor, you may be hooked!


    1. Hi Jayne, I’ve been told a few times by a few people that I should try dahlias and they’ve even been featured on TV so I don’t think I’m going to be able to avoid them for long. I know there are varieties available that won’t mind (too much) being left in the ground over winter so when a suitable patch of border opens up, perhaps watch this space!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.