One of the things I love about gardening is that it fills you with hope for the future. We may well be in high summer (literally and metaphorically), but while you have a packet of seeds there is always much to look forward to.
Last week I attended the open day at Thompson and Morgan’s show-grounds in Ipswich – my notebook is already stuffed full of ideas. Every autumn I curl up with the new catalogue, but nothing beats seeing the real thing. You can rule out problematic contenders like Salpiglossis (very beautiful flower, very floppy foliage). It’s also a chance to be see plants that the catalogue doesn’t do justice to, like the majestic like tree lilies.
So, for 2010 here are some of my favourites. Without realising it I seem to have been drawn to claret-coloured flowers for next year. (I avoid mixed seed packets altogether since they are hard to combine with other plants). Not all of these plants will be available from T&M’s catalogue but they are worth keeping an eye out for. With some on-line detective work they shouldn’t be too hard to track down.
1. Cosmos ‘Rubenza’ pinky, brown wine coloured flowers they change and fade as they grow.
2. Tree Lily ‘Time Zone’ This variety is on trial and may be offered next year. The flowers are a deep burgundy and the plant is over six feet tall with an abundance of blooms. Spectacular for a pot on the patio or at the back of the border. For a selection of colours currently available as bulbs click here.
3. Petunia Debonair ‘Dusty Rose’. Bred in the US, this is not yet available in the UK, though it will probably be on the market for 2010. The flowers are a faded wine colour, some with a splashed effect.
White is a colour I find hard to combine with others, especially in a hot border, but if you are thinking of having a go at a Sissinghurst-style white garden a couple of useful plants to raise from seed are these:
1. Papaver rhoeas ‘Bridal White’ is a delicate and unusual field poppy. Just toss the seed down where you want it to grow and the rest will be taken care of by nature.
2. Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Double Click’ Snow Puff has double white flowers and is useful when you need fine, feathery foliage. Keep deadheading and the plant will go on all summer till the first frosts.
Many people are sensible enough to use shrubs and perennials as the back bone of the garden, using annuals to fill in the gaps or provide splashes of colour, but sometimes it’s refreshing to break the rules. For the last couple of years I’ve taken to planting annuals, almost exclusively, on one side of the garden, just to provide a heightened sense of drama and variety. If you’re not careful this style of planting can leave you with swathes of bare earth during the winter, but with the judicious planting of wall flowers and tulips in the autumn and even some pak choi and broad beans, you can have an awful lot of fun and still get away with it.