We’ve all enjoyed a fantastic start to the gardening year with some superb weather, beautiful days with frost-free nights – but beware! We’ve already had a stream of customers at the nursery wanting tender bedding and patio plants for hanging baskets , containers and beds.
My advice is simple – don’t even think about it! It’s still much too early.
I agree, the displays of in-flower geraniums, impatiens and petunias on offer at the bigger garden centres do seem tempting, but we’re still in early April, and there’s a long way to go before the last frosts have had their say.
I’ll talk more about tender annuals next month.
However, this is the time to plant out Herbaceous Perennials – plants that come back every year and are not killed or damaged by frosts or cold weather .
Whatever the size or shape of your garden , there are bound to be a host of perennials that will thrive and reward you with colour and form for years to come.
One of my favourites is the Campanula family. These plants are robust, reliable and will earn their spot in your garden by providing you with strong, vibrant blues and more subtle violets and whites.
As well as giving you a huge choice of colours, the Campanulas offer the gardener an array of sizes – from tiny to huge with everything in between.
Another superb choice is the Delphinium, a “must have” plant for a traditional cottage garden planting scheme. Again, this family of plants have something for everyone.
From an almost ink black blue to a wedding dress white, whilst growing to knee high or as tall as a stilt walker, Delphiniums are an English tradition that can transform the most mundane back garden into an atmospheric sanctuary.
Lupins are another tried and tested perennial that will fill your garden with bright spiky blooms and strong striking foliage. These chunky fearless plants burst into colour in early summer and will continue spinning their magic well into the autumn. The Lupin displays a vigorous hue of colours, bright dazzling reds, strident icy blues and pale , interesting pinks.
There are two things to bear in mind for the grower of Delphiniums and Lupins – as young, tender plants, both are liable to be damaged by slugs and if planted in an open position the taller varieties will benefit from being supported by a stake or bamboo cane.
The Penstomens are well worth a place in your summer border. But do spend a little time deciding which variety suits you best as some members of this family are a little tender and may struggle during a particularly cold and wet winter. These plants offer a cool, airy palette of mauves, violets and pinks which will all provide a stately, majestic look to your planting scheme.
These are just some of my personal favourites, but you can also create a traditional English cottage garden feel with Carnations, Foxgloves, Hollyhocks, Phlox and Verbascums.
All these plants will thrive in your garden, giving you years of colour.
But don’t forget Summer bulbs and tubers!
At the moment, the daffodils and tulips are giving us superb Spring colour, but these days, many gardeners tend to ignore the delights of planting bulbs now, for flower later this season.
Dahlias, Lilies, Begonias and Gladioli planted in April will erupt in June and July, filling your garden with rich, vivid colours, transforming a once barren patch into a cocktail of fizzing, dazzling tones.