Here we are in January turning our thoughts to summer and the floral display’s that will be the backbone of our gardens; with a wide choice of bulbs, plants, corms, tubers, ferns, grasses and small shrubs and trees available to tempt and inspire the imagination. The weather may trap us inside and it may be a little early for most items but we can still plan ahead and order in advance so we are not disappointed if stocks run short.
For me Dahlia Tubers are a must have; they flower from July until the first frost the more you cut them the more they flower, there is a Dahlia for every garden from the small Gallery Dahlia to the tall Decorative & Cactus Dahlias the Bishop Dahlias and Classic Dahlias have foliage in a remarkable shade of blackish green bringing another dimension to the Dahlia plants.
Lilium with their glamorous flowers bring a little of the exotic to the garden. Oriental Lilies, Orienpet Lilies, Longiflorum Lilies and Trumpet lilies will bring perfume to the garden, the tall Specie Lilium are perfect for back of the border where they can be left to naturalise.
Gladioli and Begonia corms like the Dahlias a few years ago; lost favour with gardeners but they are now starting to take their rightful place back in our gardens I’m so pleased they are, Gladioli bring structure and stately elegance to the border and like Begonia corms make excellent starter bulbs for children. Gladioli are perfect for cut flowers. Begonias come in many different colours the flowers range from the blousy to the delicate they provide flowers from July to the first frost perfect for growing in pots, widow boxes or the edge of the border. Trailing Begonias give the wow effect to your hanging baskets.
Then you have the stalwarts of the garden most of these come under the Miscellaneous category. Acidanthera “Callianthus” beautiful white elegance with a distinctive carmine purple blotch and soft fragrance. I can always find a place for Brodiaea an excellent bulb I think really overlooked, not too tall at 20/30 cm a distinctive blue flower in June/July try mixing with Alchemilla or any low growing plant especially lime green, yellow, orange or white. Crocosmia with their long arching spikes perfect for the middle to back of the border, their light airy habit are perfect in the middle of the border when you want to see what is planted behind they bring excellent composition to the border.
Eucomis lush green leaves surround a thick stem of flowers often called the pineapple flower perfect for ground cover not to tall and exotic. Galtonia a back of the border bulb tall impressive spikes with white or green bell shaped flowers. Nerine also known as the Guernsey Lily planted just at the surface or they will never flower bring colour to the autumn garden. Ornithogalum excellent in the garden they make perfect long lasting cut flowers. Polianthes “Tuberosa” ideal for the garden border or pots they have a lovely strong perfume and for the woodland garden Trillium are perfect if you are north facing.
The Perennials are the back bone of the garden they work hard providing colour, shape and foliage over the summer months they need little attention except for a little pruning to keep the shape improve the foliage and promote further flowering, every few years dig them up and split the plant to encourage better growth.
There is an endless choice in perennials and mixed together they can bring a great effect a few examples are Alchemilla and Nepeta the lime green and lavender work well planted together plant Allium in the autumn then over plant with Hosta the wide leaves of the Hostas hide the Allium foliage and are an excellent foil for the allium flowers. Camassia planted in the autumn with Euphorbia planted in the spring are an excellent colour combination giving a fresh planting scheme. Pink Tulips planted in the autumn mixed with Dicentra pink and white, Tulip Flaming spring Green or Happy Generation planted with Aquilegia Nora Barlow
Plant Hosta Patriot and intersperse them with Paeonies and red Pulmonaria mix in some deep red Monarda for a rich textured effect or mix complimenting shades of Hostas with lavender, purple and lilac flowers to bring a cool elegant look to the garden.
Perennial plants have a limitless ability to fit into any garden from a small window box a city garden, suburban or woodland garden. Perennials have an excellent colour pallet to experiment with from cool whites, blues and pinks to the jewel shades of deep purple, red, orange with a touch of deep pink.
Which ones to choose and recommend hmm like a box of chocolates it’s hard to know where to start you love them all?