Pick perennials for their incredible range, diversity and year-after-year staying power.
Perennial plants are extremely versatile and can be used on their own, en masse, or as fillers between shrubs. Herbaceous perennials, which die down over winter, are less work than annual flowers, as they return each year in spring and grow larger as they mature.
Garden carnations, or pinks, ( Dianthus caryophyllus) are short-lived perennials that grow up to 50cm tall. They have grey foliage, unlike the bright green leaves of sweet williams, and boast a long flowering season, on and off from early spring until the end of summer.
Dianthus caryophyllus is a late summer perennial that can reach 60-120cm high. It comes in a wide range of colours, its blossoms doing their best to imitate those of the lilac. The stems of first year flowering plants may be short but they will grow taller in subsequent years.
The starry blooms of hoyas are so perfect they barely look real, but these trailing beauties are not difficult to grow given light shade, a well-drained soil or, better still, the confinement of a pot. Hoya carnosa is the most popular species grown outside in milder areas.
Few clematis are grown for their scent but some do stand out for their sweet perfume. Many of the montana varieties are scented, 'Elizabeth' being the most fragrant of them all with its sweet vanilla bouquet. Clematis montana var. wilsonii is known for its chocolate scent. Clematis not only make beautiful bouquets, they stay fresh for at least seven days, depending on the variety used. Many in the integrifolia and viticella groups do well as cut flowers.
GIVE A SWEET VIOLET POSY
Long-stemmed sweet violets ( Viola odorata) are the perfect flowers for posies. Bearing a gentle scent that's loved by all, violets are perfect for picking and taking as a gift when visiting. Grow violets in the garden where they get a little sunshine (but not too much of the drying and fading afternoon variety), a soil rich in leaf mould or compost (throw in some well-aged sheep manure for good measure), and water when dry to keep their roots cool and moist.
Treat your eyes and nose to a bouquet of fragrant blooms. Or make one to take to a friend or family member when visiting.