June 11 – ‘Instant Colour’

SOME people can be a bit snobby about bedding plants but I must confess that I absolutely love them. They are very easy to grow, there’s a plant and colour for any aspect and any occasion and what’s more with regular deadheading they can keep flowering all through the summer. In our own gardens we always use purple and white busy lizzies to complement our shady flower beds in between our ferns and Hostas and red or pink ivy leaved geraniums partnered with Nepeta in our hanging baskets and pots.

 Using bedding plants is a great British tradition and dates back to the 1830’s when they were first used in the parks and gardens of the great Victorian stately homes where people would compete to out do each other with the complexity of their designs.

 Although bedding plants are annuals and only have a limited lifespan, most will last up until the first frosts, you can still create the most magnificent flower displays that will be the envy of all your neighbours. A lot of annuals such as Escholtzia (Californian poppies) and pansies will also self seed so although the main plant may perish in the winter you’ll still get new plants again next year.

 If you have any gaps in your borders, or any empty pots or hanging baskets then now’s the time to fill them with bedding plants. All the garden centres are awash with all sorts of beauties from elegant Pelargoniums (geraniums) to the more unusual Isotomas (with white and blue star flowers) and Angelonias (pink and purple summer snapdragons). If you want to try something a bit different this year then plant some Cleomes which are available in all shades of pink and purple and prefer full sun. 

 For sunny sites then use Gazanias, Osteospernums, Geraniums and Petunias and for more shady sites use busy lizzies, Begonias and pansies. I always think that red geraniums used on their own look fabulous in pots and give that authentic Mediterranean feel and remind me of holidays. Although we often use just one colour or a combination of complementary colours such as pink and white, it really doesn’t matter how many colours you use and sometimes a riotous mix of loads of different colours together can be really striking.

 As long as you remember to water regularly, feed once a week and deadhead regularly then you’ll have amazing results. Bedding plants can be invaluable in any planting scheme and for instant summer colour you just can’t go wrong.