Grow blooms to see out summer
My key star performers will be a ‘flower factory’ through the season!
Whenever I’m planning a planting scheme for my garden or a client there are certain components I usually include: evergreen structure. Tick. Self-seeders and season bulbs. Tick. Winter interest. Tick. But the one component I always include are the ‘relentless bloomers’.
These are a set of hardworking plants that I’ve identified over the years as reliable, healthy and, most importantly, able to produce blooms for six months or more. Many of the annual bedding plants fit this category but what I’m really interested in are those plants that will return year after year with a determined succession of flowers.
Some are shrubs, others perennials, but they all have one thing in common – a near ceaseless ability to flower. This doesn’t mean I ignore the more fleeting ephemeral beauties such as tree peonies, but rather supplement them with the plants I refer to as ‘flower factories’.
There are more than a few iconic herbaceous perennials renowned for their flower power. Perhaps the best known is geranium ‘Rozanne’, which blooms for at least six months, but there are another two which I think perform just as well. Geranium ‘Lilac Ice’ has similar parentage to ‘Rozanne’ and the same flowering frequency, but carries very pale white-pink flowers. Blooming for as many months, albeit with slightly fewer flowers, is geranium ‘Dilys’. Its petals are a delicate lilac-blue scattered over fulsome foliage.
For a more vibrant palette geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ is a real win-win plant. It flowers for six months or more, carrying vibrant orange flowers aloft wafty stems. It works well at the border front as a see-through plant, or mid-border mixed with other half-metre heroes, such as the Americanbred kniphofia ‘Creamsicle’. Unlike its brethren, this kniphofia flowers for at least six months through summer with two-tone orange and cream flower spikes.
Hydrangeas, such as ‘Wim’s Red’, are the real stalwarts of flowering longevity but there are three other star performers – Daphne transatlantica ‘Eternal Fragrance’, weigela ‘All Summer Red’ and Salvia jamensis.
The daphne produces scent-laden blooms from late spring to autumn. They’re palest pink, set off by the glossy, evergreen foliage. Weigela ‘All Summer Red’ does what its name suggests. Unlike other weigela, which flower for around six weeks in late spring, this one carries on through summer and into autumn with crimson flowers. Equally floriferous are varieties of Salvia jamensis. These shrubs produce a succession of red, purple, yellow or pink flowers for six to eight months, all in return for a light spring prune.
Geranium ‘Lilac Ice’ bobs with lovely icy pink blooms
Award-winning designer, TV broadcaster and best-selling author Lesley Cook Headshots
Modern classic geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ is a real beauty