Flower gardeners spoilt for choice
Many varieties are excellent as cut flowers
Spring is a busy time in my garden. There are veggies to be planted and new season’s flowers to be sown. Here’s what I’m planting in my flower patch.
cosmos Tango is new this year for Egmont Seeds (egmontseeds.co.nz) and it’s a stunner. It has vivid orange flowers that are produced en masse throughout the season.
The flowers look spectacular planted against a dark coloured fence, or simply plant them in drifts as you would a wildflower garden. Seeds can be sown in trays and transplanted in the garden when big enough.
Achillea Double Pearl produces clusters of pure white, small pompom flowers over a long period during summer. The flowers are great for picking, with stems growing up to 75cm high.
It’s similar in looks to gypsophila, but not so airy-fairy, and it’s a little easier to grow. It’s most prolific in mid to late summer, though it will flower sporadically at other times of the year once established.
Sow seeds in trays before planting in a sunny position. Available from Kings Seeds (kingsseeds.co.nz).
Agastache Arcado Pink is a first-year flowering perennial with stems up to 60cm high. It’s a great plant for the border or container, and especially great for picking. The flowers are like small fluffy plumes, a soft purple-pink in colour. Sow seeds in trays for summer flowering. Available from Kings Seeds.
Campanula persicifolia Alba is an oldfashioned cottage garden plant with pure white bell-shaped flowers in summer. The flowers, on slender stems to 1m high, make excellent cut flowers, lasting about a week in the vase. Plant in compost-enriched soil and apply a balanced fertiliser. Available from Oderings and Marshwood Gardens.
Salpiglossis Chocolate Royale, also known as painted tongue, is a cottage garden favourite, and this variety is one of the most sought-after. Its trumpet-shaped blooms are a chocolate hue, appearing from midsummer to first frosts. This variety is best planted in full sun and rich, moisture-retentive soil. Pinch the tips to encourage branching. Available from Kings Seeds and GardenPost (gardenpost.co.nz).
Gladioli are superb cut flowers, with a rainbow of colours on offer. The flowers, reaching up to 120cm high, last 6-10 days in the vase. Plant corms 15cm deep in moist but freedraining soil in full sun. These plants do not rebloom once cut so stagger planting for continuous blooms. Available from garden centres and specialist mail order nurseries.
Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) is named because it supposedly looks like a Mexican sombrero. To me it looks more like an elongated coneflower (echinacea) with a stretched central cone and drooping petals. But it does look great in the garden and blooms throughout summer and autumn. It’s also drought-resistant. Seeds are available from GardenPost.
Gaillardia Arizona Apricot has unusual colours for a gaillardia with golden yellow edges surrounding an apricot centre. Its daisy-like flowers bloom from summer until first frosts, flowering about 90 days after sowing. Available from Kings Seeds.
Stunning: Achillea Double Pearl is new for planting this season.