Grow blooms to see out sum­mer

My key star per­form­ers will be a ‘flower fac­tory’ through the sea­son!

Garden News (UK) - - What To Do - NICK BAI­LEY

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’.

Peren­ni­als

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.

Shrubs

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

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