Zinnia Green Envy
Although it’s blowy and on and off quite cold at times, we’re starting to feel inspired about summer plants. Here are ideas for some sun loving plants for your garden, that like to grow in well drained soil and need a full sun aspect. During the winter protect the roots of these plants with mulch.
Let’s start with Agapanthus, commonly known as the African Lily. The name Agapanthus comes from the Greek; ‘agape’ meaning love, and ‘anthos’ meaning flower. The ‘Flower of Love!’
Agapanthus ‘Northern Star’ is a classic, with cobalt flowers which have a dark stripe in the middle. After trials in the UK they were noted to flower for six weeks through July and August. As a deciduous type of Agapanthus, they are fully hardy through British winters, and can be planted in spring or autumn. So get planting in the next few weeks if you’d like to see these architectural beauties springing up in your garden.
If your garden isn’t south facing, or you’d simply prefer to have an Agapanthus in a pot, opt for an evergreen compact variety such as Agapanthus ‘Peter Pan.’ The evergreen varieties are not hardy like the deciduous ones, so move the pot to a sheltered location during the winter to protect it.
For the best flowers, a high potash feed should be applied every couple of weeks during the growing season until flowers show colour.
Evergreen, Agapanthus ‘Peter Pan’ – image Clifton Nurseries
Hylotelephium, otherwise known as Sedum Stonecrop, is a perennial plant, whose dry flower heads look magnificent in the winter garden. I love to see the new fleshy green shoots popping up in the early spring. These develop into tall thick stems with large clusters of starry flowers on top.
I particularly like the ‘Autumn Joy’ variety which is a deep raspberry colour, but there are other varieties to choose from with varying white and pink hues.
Another South African beauty is the Watsonia pillansii, or the Bugle Lily. It is a perennial with sword shaped leaves and spikes of bright orange-red flowers from late summer. They grow to a height of 1m and spread 0.5m. I love using pops of colour like this within layered mixed borders. A bonus is that they are disease and pest free.
Sanguisorba officinalis also known as Greater Burnet is a compact clump forming perennial with tall spikes of maroon flowers in the summer and early autumn. They are can be woven through a mixed border but are even better in a wildflower meadow or prairie planting design. They prefer full sun, but will tolerate partial shade and grow to a height of 1.5m.
Chionochloa conspicua is a muted evergreen grass that will dance in the wind in your garden, without being battered down. It looks great planted with its cousin Chionochloa rubra (Red tussock grass), and a bright yellow or orange Crocosmia. It grows to a height of 1.5m and spread of 1m. Cut back old flowered stems at the base after flowering. They don’t like the winter wet in Britain so protect the base with mulch and ensure a free draining, fertile soil.
Mix the above flowers and grasses with the warm yellow tones of Rudbeckia, with the bright yellow, orange and reds of Crocosmia, with the puffy blooms of Zinnia or dazzling Dahlias.
Stunning Dahlias – don’t plant until the last of the spring frost is over. They don’t like cold soil.