5 ways to get a stunning jewel garden like Monty Don's

Love the stunning mix of colours in Monty Don's jewel garden? Here's how to combine splashes of crimson, orange and purple as dahlias and cannas become stars of the show

multi-coloured flowerbed
(Image credit: Alamy)

This time of year is a magical time in Monty Don's jewel garden, which is at its best in early September. We love how he talks about the colours and textures being like a rich tapestry, and it makes us want to get out in our own gardens to recreate the seasonal delights of dahlias, cannas, zinnias and echinacea filling the borders with splashes of bright, strong colour. 

Inspired to give it a try in your own garden? Keep reading for our round-up of five of the best plants to choose if you want to cram colour into the September garden, then check out our garden design ideas for more stunning outdoor spaces. 

1. Tropical cannas

Jewel garden Monty Don

A photo posted by @themontydon on Aug 31, 2020 at 7:28am PDT

With their vibrant orange colour and lush foliage featuring attention seeking stripy pink markings, canna bring a tropical touch to your garden in late summer. They add drama as they can grow very tall and look fab gently swaying in the breeze. If the conditions are right (they like it hot and wet, with plenty of feed) they will end up towering over you, as has happened here with Monty's 'Durban' variety. They also love growing in a pot on the patio.

2. Easy echinacea

Monty grows echinacea more for their eye-catching coppery seed heads than their mauve flowers but we think they're equally good to look at as they sprawl about among the delphiniums and rudbeckia to fill a border with ease. Also known as coneflowers, they tick every box. They're easy to grow, add late summer colour, and the bees and butterflies love them.

3. Dazzling dahlias

Dahlia Bishop of Llandaff

Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff' 

(Image credit: Alamy)

The dahlia's revival in popularity continues. Its reputation for being gaudy has been pushed aside as the demand for these eye-catching blooms rockets. Yes they hog the spotlight but in a jewel garden they are truly the stars of the show. An intense crimson variety such as 'Bishop of Llandaff' will cram in colour from July until September. This variety also has bronze-coloured stems and foliage, which adds another layer to the vivid colour palette a jewel garden demands.

4. Zingy zinnias

Zinnia flower

(Image credit: Alamy)

As summer eases into September you can't beat zinnias. One packet of seeds will provide a gorgeous colour explosion right up to the first frosts. They come in a range of opulent shades to suit a jewel garden, everything from vivid red and hot orange to purple, pink and lemon. Another thing we love about zinnias is the profusion of flowers, which means you can snip plenty to fill vases indoors without leaving any obvious gaps in the garden.

5. Vigorous Crocosmia

Adding a mass of foliage and arching spikes of red or orange flowers, crocosmia is a robust addition to any jewel colour garden. A variety like vermilion-hued 'Lucifer' feels exotic too, which is no surprise when you find out it's from South Africa. After flowering, the sturdy clumps can be divided creating a fast way to fill a border with a riot of blooms. It's easy to grow if you plant it in a sunny spot, doesn't require feeding and rarely needs watering. Our kind of plant!

More planting advice: 

Sarah Wilson
Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson has been a lifestyle journalist for many years, writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, as well as Country Homes & Interiors and Modern Gardens magazines. 

Her own (small urban) garden is a work in progress  - so many ideas, not enough space to cram them in. Hero plants include her ever growing collection of ornamental grasses, black bamboo and ferns, and the perennials like salvias and penstemons that come back reliably year after year. All very restrained though when in fact she'd love to pack her garden with gaudy dahlias and giant cannas, so these are top of her wish list for what to grow next.