Gar­den­ing: Bi­en­ni­als to plug the gap be­tween spring and sum­mer

Plant bi­en­ni­als to plug the gap be­tween your spring and sum­mer dis­plays, says Adri­enne Wild

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Come On In! -

For a rich tapestry ef­fect, min­gle

dif­fer­ent-coloured va­ri­eties of wall­flow­ers among a batch of tulips

For­ward plan­ning is the key to cre­at­ing a great-look­ing garden and, with­out re­al­is­ing it, you may al­ready be well prac­tised at do­ing this, es­pe­cially if you are plant­ing springflow­er­ing bulbs now with the aim of pro­duc­ing a show to lift you out of the win­ter gloom.

You may also be fa­mil­iar with sow­ing frost-ten­der or half-hardy an­nu­als, such as cos­mos, marigolds and to­bacco plants in the warmth early in the year, to pro­vide colour­ful pa­tio dis­plays in sum­mer. But you may have no­ticed that there is a gap that des­per­ately needs to be filled be­tween the two sea­sons. This can eas­ily be done and for lit­tle ex­pense with some less-de­mand­ing seedraised plants like wall­flow­ers, blue or white for­get-me-nots, scented stocks and hon­esty.

These plants are bi­en­ni­als and usu­ally come into their own in May, of­fer­ing some of the best flow­ers at this time of year. To cul­ti­vate your own plants, though, seeds should have been sown in a sunny cor­ner of the veg­etable plot in mid­sum­mer – tim­ing is ev­ery­thing when for­ward plan­ning!

The seeds should be sown in an out-of-the-way spot and will qui­etly ger­mi­nate and grow with­out flow­er­ing in the first year then, in au­tumn, can be trans­planted to where you want them to flower. In their new po­si­tions, they will re­main dor­mant over win­ter, then have an­other burst of growth be­fore flow­er­ing in spring and early sum­mer.

If, how­ever, you missed this im­por­tant time slot for sow­ing, you’ll find that garden cen­tres are now stocked to the hilt with spring-flow­er­ing bi­en­ni­als ready to be planted along with your favourite spring bulbs.

Honey-scented wall­flow­ers (Cheiran­thus cheiri or Erysi­mum cheiri) are one of the most pop­u­lar bi­en­ni­als but, as they are mem­bers of the bras­sica fam­ily, are also sub­ject to clu­b­root, flea bee­tle and at­tack by the cab­bage white but­ter­fly, so it’s im­por­tant not to line out the young plants where cab­bages have grown the pre­vi­ous year. Cov­er­ing the plants-in-wait­ing with En­vi­romesh net­ting will af­ford them some pro­tec­tion.

When buy­ing wall­flow­ers dur­ing Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber, you’ll find that they are mostly sold in bun­dles of bare-rooted plants in mixed colours. For best re­sults, look for freshly dug sup­plies and make sure they have some soil at­tached to strong, healthy roots. Sin­gle-coloured named va­ri­eties are also avail­able but, more of­ten than not, they are sold in pots and usu­ally in spring, when they can

Sweet rocket Wallflower

‘Vul­can’

Stocks make a beau­ti­ful

scented gap-filler

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