Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Reaching a Peak in the Late Summer Sun; Here's What to Plant to Keep the Excitement and Colour Going Even with Autumn Just around the Corner

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Reaching a Peak in the Late Summer Sun; Here's What to Plant to Keep the Excitement and Colour Going Even with Autumn Just around the Corner

Article excerpt

Byline: Pattie Barron

CHRISTOPHER MASSON'S south-west London garden is full of colour at this time of year, and the flower show will carry on through October, too. The established garden designer purposely planted his plot to hit its peak in late summer. "There is so much excitement still to be had," says Masson. "People don't work towards late summer and that's the time when you can relax in the garden. I always tell clients to think beyond May and June."

A series of curved steps leads to Masson's main garden with a slightly off-centre York stone path he likes to keep things less symmetrical for a more natural look and at each step, there is much to admire.

To the right of the terrace, down a low wall, there are alternating cascades of filigree greenery from Choisya ternata Aztec Pearl and a Hebe parviflora. Although they are evergreen shrubs, Masson craftily prunes them hard so they act like trailing climbers.

He plays with different textures and tones through the garden, too, so that evergreen shrub Itea ilicifolia trails its long, pale green tassels in between the white mophead blooms of Hydrangea arborescens Annabelle on one side, and the conical, mint-green flowers of Hydrangea paniculata Limelight on the other. Above them, shell pink climbing rose Madame Alfred Carriere prepares for her second flowering in autumn. "I delay pruning because I don't care about not having early summer flowers," he says. "I'm quite ruthless." The garden faces north-east, is high on a hill, gets cold winds and a lot of it is in shade, but nonetheless Masson grows all kinds of hardy plants, such as yet-to-flower ginger lilies, oleander, scarlet Salvia involucruta and the striking violet Salvia Amistad, and they all thrive. "What I do is harness the light," he explains. "Wherever there is sun in the garden, I'll exploit those areas by using them for siting plants that need the warmth and light."

He also repeats evergreens through the garden so that there is a rhythm. "The plants I use myself and for clients are those that will grow in light or shade so can be used right through the garden. These are camellia, escallonia, griselinia, itea, fatsia, eucryphia, which I love for its white flowers in late summer, and the evergreen jasmine, trachelospermum. …

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