Vivid-hued blooms to brighten rooms
We’re gearing up for spring gardening, so now is an ideal time to start planting or sowing flowers for a good show later in the season.
Coreopsis tinctoria, for example, is a hardy annual with golden yellow flowers with maroon centres. Plants bloom from November to February and self-seed readily. They prefer dry soil but will grow in moist spots as well. Sow in trays for transplanting later. Seeds are available from Kings Seeds.
Purple tansy (Phacelia tanacetifolia) is often grown as a green manure crop but its longlasting blooms make excellent cut flowers. The striking flowers reach anywhere from 50cm to 150cm high and bloom in spring and summer for several weeks. Sow seeds in pots for transplanting, or sow directly in the ground after the last frosts. Most seed merchants offer purple tansy.
Hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab) produces bright lavender sweet pealike flowers followed by waxy, burgundy-red pods. The pods are great for picking, lasting some time in the vase. The plant is an annual vine; grow as you would for sweet peas, in full sun with ample moisture.
Plants will grow in most soils as long as drainage is good. Plant in pots for transplanting when frosts have passed. Seeds are available from Kings Seeds.
California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are easy to grow, thriving in dry, poor soils. As cut flowers, they’re short-lived but they’re vibrant in the vase with their bright orange blooms. Press seeds on to the surface of seedraising mix and keep in a warm spot until ready to pot up. Position them in full sun. These are annuals, but in the right spot they will selfsow. Most seed merchants offer these.
Gomphrena globosa ‘‘Bicolour Rose’’, also called globe amaranth, has pretty clover-like flowers on 50cm high stems. It’s a summerflowering annual, lasting a week in a vase – though the papery bracts are everlasting once picked.
Sow seeds in trays for transplanting later. Plants are drought-tolerant and like full sun and well-drained soil. You can buy seeds from Egmont Seeds.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a great gap filler, both for the garden and the vase. It has a tendency to take over your patch if left alone, but a quick snip, or yank, will keep it in check.
There are many gorgeous colours available these days, from white, pale pinks and soft lemon, to inyour-face cerise, oranges and reds. Sow seeds in trays for transplanting out in the garden when big enough.
One of my favourite perennials is Trachelium caeruleum. It’s a semishrubby plant that produces a large powder puff of purple flowers throughout summer and autumn.
It’s perfect for semi-shaded spots, though it will grow in sun too, and its flowers are very long-lasting in the vase.
It’s a half-hardy perennial, though it can also be grown as an annual. Seeds, available from Egmont Seeds, can be sown in trays now for later transplanting.
Cheerful: California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are easy to grow, thriving in dry, poor soils.
Bright-eyed: Coreopsis tinctoria is a hardy annual.