While gardeners are spoilt for choice with summer-flowering perennials and bedding plants, deciduous shrubs that bloom from June onwards are less common, particularly once you take the big three out of the equation, namely roses, buddleja and hydrangea.
But there are some beautiful and useful species and varieties available that bring something a little bit different to the garden, some suitable for smaller gardens or different aspects in sun or shade. For sun, in well-drained, poor soil try Indigofera amblyantha, with its delicate, lacy foliage on thin, wiry stems and short spires of shrimp-pink flowers. It keeps on flowering until the first frosts. It can also be trained against a wall by securing the main stems to horizontal wires and then training growth sideways, while thinning out and trimming back forward-facing shoots. It can also withstand cutting back fairly hard if it needs to be constrained.
Two recent introductions that are ideal for small gardens are abelia ‘Sunny Charms’ and weigela ‘All Summer Peach’. Both are no bigger than 1.2m (4ft), but will continue to flower continually until autumn. Both are new colour breaks, with the abelia the first A. grandiflora variety to have yellow tones, rather than pink or mauve, and the weigela has peachy tones with pink tips to the petals, an attractive contrast. Both are easy to please in any moist, well-drained soil in sun or semi-shade.
If you have an acid soil try the spice bush Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’, which produces spikes of pink flowers that have a delicious sweet scent. For sun, as long as the soil is not droughted or poor, or if you have a semi-shaded spot this is an ideal choice. If your soil is chalky you can also grow it in a pot filled with ericaceous compost. After the flowers it will reward you with a display of golden-yellow leaves in autumn.
Our pick of summer sparklers
Weigela ‘All Summer Peach’
New compact variety. Pink-tipped peach blooms. H/S: 90cm (3ft).
Abelia grandiflora ‘Sunny Charms’
Fragrant pale yellow and pink flowers. H: 1.2m (4ft), S: 90cm (3ft).
Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’
Fragrant pink spikes. Autumn colour. Needs acid soil. Sun/shade. H/S: 1.5m (5ft).
Spikes of pink pea flowers all summer. Delicate, lacy foliage. H: 1.8m (6ft), S: 2.4m (8ft).