Give them a gift they’ll love

Make a ro­man­tic ges­ture with the gift of a beau­ti­ful plant

Garden Answers (UK) - - Contents -

As an al­ter­na­tive to the tra­di­tional fresh flow­ers and choco­lates given on Valen­tine’s Day, why not think out­side the box and opt for the more per­ma­nent of­fer­ing of a hardy plant? Choose one that will be cher­ished, not just for a few, tran­sient days, but for many years to come. Pro­claim your love through a ro­man­ti­cally named plant and it will melt the heart of your loved one ev­ery time they stop to ad­mire it. To en­sure the plant you choose lives a happy and healthy life, think about the con­di­tions the re­cip­i­ent’s gar­den of­fers, such as soil type, as­pect (shade or full sun) and size, and avoid plant­ing in ex­tremes of weather such as frozen ground or wa­ter­logged soil. If lack of space is an is­sue, opt for a plant that will thrive in a con­tainer, be that on a small pa­tio or shel­tered bal­cony.

POTENTILLA FRU­TI­COSA ‘LOVELY PINK’

This shrubby and com­pact cinque­foil is worth its weight in gold for un­remit­ting flower power over the sum­mer. Five-petalled, cup-shaped pink flow­ers, favoured by bees, en­gulf a neat mound of at­trac­tive green fo­liage. Easy to grow in most con­di­tions, it thrives in a hot sunny as­pect and is rea­son­ably drought tol­er­ant. Trim in spring to main­tain a good shape. H and S1m (3ft 3in)

CRO­CUS ‘RO­MANCE’

While roses may be the flower as­so­ci­ated with Valen­tine’s Day, the hum­ble cro­cus is ded­i­cated to St Valen­tine, the Chris­tian mar­tyr, af­ter whom this day was named. ‘Ro­mance’ de­fies the cold and adds a ray of sun­shine to the sleep­ing land­scape with its but­tery-yel­low, gob­let-shaped blooms. Plant them in beds or rock­eries or nat­u­ralise them in the lawn. Buy ready-pot­ted cro­cuses and plant out­side af­ter flow­er­ing. H10cm (4in) S5cm (2in)

CUPID’S DART (CATANACHE CAERULEA) ‘ALBA’

This hardy peren­nial is a na­tive of the Mediter­ranean, used in bou­quets as a Greek sym­bol of love. A mass of sil­very buds on up­right stems open into pa­pery-white flower heads with a pur­plish cen­tre June-Sept. This lit­tle gem dis­likes heavy, wa­ter­logged soil and thrives in gritty free-drain­ing soil in a sunny as­pect. H60cm (2ft) S35cm (14in)

LILY ‘RO­MANCE SERIES’

Fall in love with the se­duc­tive scent of lilies that drifts far and wide from where they’re planted. The eclec­tic mix of pink and red lilies in the Ro­mance series epit­o­mises the colours of Valen­tine’s Day, each with its dis­tinct pro­file; some bear­ing spots, oth­ers stripes and all with eight blooms per stem. Sym­bol­is­ing grace and pu­rity, these ex­otic-look­ing, ori­en­tal cul­ti­vars need no stak­ing, hav­ing been bred to be com­pact and are there­fore per­fect for grow­ing in pots po­si­tioned in sun or semi-shade. H40cm (16in) S25cm (10in)

CLEMA­TIS ‘SWEET SUM­MER LOVE’

Smoth­ered in small, red­dish­pur­ple flow­ers from July-Aug, this clema­tis will carry on bloom­ing un­til Oc­to­ber. The flow­ers have a pale re­verse to the petals and are sweetly scented. Plant it in a large con­tainer or against a sunny wall or fence, where it will make a great part­ner for a climb­ing rose. Cut back the pre­vi­ous year’s stems to a pair of strong buds 15-20cm (6-8in) above ground level in spring. H3m (10ft) S1m (3ft 3in)

ZANTEDESCHIA ‘CAP­TAIN RO­MANCE’

Clumps of this sump­tu­ous calla lily live up to their dis­tin­guished name by pro­vid­ing great pres­ence in a gar­den set­ting. The rich pink, trum­pet­shaped blooms stand proudly to at­ten­tion, above lush green fo­liage. Sum­mer-flow­er­ing calla lilies pre­fer hu­mus rich, well-drained soil; heavy soil can cause the rhi­zomes to rot. Lift in au­tumn when the fo­liage has died back and store over win­ter in a frost-free en­vi­ron­ment. H65cm (26in) S40cm (16in) af­ter 5-10 years

LAVATERA CLEMENTII ‘BARNSLEY BABY’

From its del­i­cately shaded blush-pink blooms to its deeply lobed, heart-shaped leaves, this hard-work­ing lit­tle shrub em­bod­ies all that could be ro­man­tic in a plant. This com­pact ver­sion of a clas­sic gar­den favourite is just as vig­or­ous as its lofty re­la­tions and flow­ers with­out pause through­out sum­mer. Hap­pi­est in full sun and well-drained soil, it’s the per­fect, trou­ble­free spec­i­men for a con­tainer. H75cm (30in) S60cm (2ft)

CLEMA­TIS ‘NEW LOVE’

Un­like its climb­ing cousins, this herba­ceous clema­tis needs lit­tle sup­port and would nes­tle com­fort­ably among peren­ni­als in a sunny or semi-shaded border, in a fer­tile, free-drain­ing soil. Ex­pect to see a pro­fu­sion of unique, star-shaped in­digo-blue blooms with slen­der re­flexed petals clus­ter­ing along its strong up­right stems for a long pe­riod over the sum­mer months. When grown in a con­tainer, use a loam-based com­post such as John Innes No3. H90cm (3ft) S50cm (20in)

ROSA ‘MY VALEN­TINE’

Red roses are the undis­puted flower sym­bol of love, but why buy a bunch when you can have a long-lived pro­duc­tive plant in­stead? From sum­mer to late au­tumn this sump­tu­ous Hy­brid Tea pro­duces re­cur­rent flushes of clas­sic red, vel­vety blooms, usu­ally one per stem. And un­like many cut-flower roses, the blooms on this bush rose are exquisitely fra­granced. Plant in an open, sunny site, keep it well fed, reg­u­larly wa­tered, pruned an­nu­ally and it will live for decades. H and S90cm (3ft)

SALVIA ‘LOVE AND WISHES’

For un­in­ter­rupted colour from mid-sum­mer to au­tumn, jewel-toned salvias add a splash of op­u­lence to any border. The lux­u­ri­ous ma­genta flow­ers of ‘Love and Wishes’ are held by deep bur­gundy ca­lyces. Although not fully hardy in all parts of the UK (down to at least -5C/23F), cut­tings strike eas­ily and new plants ma­ture quickly. These wildlife-friendly plants per­form best in full sun or lightly dap­pled shade with good win­ter drainage. H80cm (32in) S50cm (20in)

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