|This is a scene from my front border after the eremurus, poppies and alliums have gone by|
One of the chief among this group is this late blooming kniphofia. This is a very large plant I got from Plant Delights many years ago. If I remember correctly, it was billed as coming originally from Beth Chatto and was considered to be one of the largest kniphofias around. Unfortunately, I don't remember its name. I used to grow a lot of kniphofias, but currently this is the only one I have. I have made a note to myself, however to add more of them for the purpose of providing this kind of late season color. When planting kniphofias it is important to pay attention to bloom time because their bloom time can vary widely, depending on which one you plant.
One reason I do not have that many kniphofias any more is that they have rather sloppy foliage. In the situation pictured above, however, that does not matter so much because the plant is in the middle of a large bed, surrounded by other foliage, so you do not notice its foliage.
Other plants that are good in a late summer drought tolerant bed like this are Lobelia tupa and various thistle like plants, such as the scotch thistle in the picture (which I am almost afraid to mention for fear the invasive plant mafia will get after me), cardoons, and globe thistles (the blue globes in the photo are Echinops ritro ssp. ruthenicus). Some of the eryngiums are still going on now, too, although Eryngium alpinum is done blooming. I have noticed that Eryngium 'Big Blue' has a very long bloom time, and for a border is actually better than Eryngium alpinum, although its individual flowers are not as good. It just has such a long bloom time and such a multitude of electric blue flowers on a good looking plant that you can't beat it. If you look closely you can see some of it in the lower left hand quadrant of the picture.
Another essential plant for late summer interest is Melianthus major which you can see mounded up behind the Kniphofia. This plant will keep going strongly well into winter in our climate. It is the foliage which is the thing with it, and it is glorious at this time of the year.