Commonly known as Red-Hot Pokers or Torch Lilies, these excellent perennials are often forgotten, which is a real shame because the tall spikes of colour are as useful an addition to a garden border as the cottage garden favourites such as foxgloves or hollyhocks.
The vibrant tall spikes of colour are a great addition to a border. They work well in hot, zesty themed displays with their multitudes of vivid orange, red and yellow tones.
With their tall grassy foliage they work particularly well planted amongst contrasting ornamental grasses to add a dramatic burst of colour and texture.
Native to Africa, they will thrive in a sunny spot in the garden and are very easy to grow and maintain. Plant in humus-rich, well drained soils. They will cope with dryer soils, they don’t like waterlogging. Water as well when they are growing but keep dry.
They will do well in coastal climates.
Deadhead after flowering but leave the plant alone over winter. Give them a tidy in mid-spring, remove any dead leaves, slugs and snails that you find attacking the new flowers, and cut the dead flower spikes right out at the base of the plant, any stumps left behind are a nice house for pests so best avoided!
These spectacular plants, also known as Russian Sage are incredibly popular right now, and it’s easy to see why.
Producing impressive tall spires of silvery leaves topped with spikes of gorgeous, tiny, violet purple bell-shaped flowers bloom in late summer. Loved by butterflies and bees, it makes a great cut flower with its lovely scent, which is a mixture of sage and lavender. Perovskia atriplicifolia Blue Spire holds an RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Native to central Asia, Russian Sage’s natural habitat is on dry plains and they are natural sun lovers. They are deciduous shrubs which, once established, are hassle free, drought tolerant (in fact they prefer it) and need an annual pruning in spring.
Perovskia will grow well in any soils, even poor or chalky, as long as they get really good drainage, water-logging will lead to root rot. They like to be in full sun and can withstand seaside air.
Prune hard annually in early to mid-spring for a healthy plant and better flowers that year. If you don’t they will come back week and floppy and generally be an untidy mess.
Cut back previous years flowering stems to within one or two buds of the older woody framework. Remove thin, weak and damaged growth. Then mulch and feed. For the first year keep them moist but not soggy to get them established. In following years they will withstand significant neglect!
They are best planted out in autumn when dormant – if you buy one that is in leaf in the spring be sure it hasn’t been growing in a poly tunnel as it may struggle when you expose it to the elements in your garden.
Russian sage is mainly used as an ornamental plant and is pretty versatile for pairing with lots of late summer ornamental grasses and perennials. You can create a really powerful display planting near other silver leafed perennials, near a lavender bush for example, and as both are bee magnets they are a great choice for wildlife friendly gardens. Tall bright coloured perennials will also look great with it in a mixed border, for examples look at Geums, Rudbeckia and Helenium to name a few!
You can also try under-planting with spring bulbs, such as Tulips or Alliums, as they will do well at hiding the bulbs foliage as it dies off in the summer.
There’s nothing like the first crocus sighting of the year. While it doesn’t necessarily mean spring is right around the corner – it certainly pushes the winter gloom away!
Whilst I love sightings in parks and woodlands, it’s rather lovely to create your own display at home. In a larger garden a secluded out of the way patch with a host of naturalizing bubs is a delight, and where space is limited crocus lend themselves well to creating a lively potted display.
Of course, one of their best features is that they are great naturalisers, creating a bigger display each year as they mature.
How to plant
Crocus corms like good drainage and are really well suited to rock gardens as well as beds and borders. Plant 5-7cm deep in a good sunny position. The bottom of the corms are flat, but if you plant them upside down nature will sort itself out so don’t worry too much!
The natural look…
Crocus will come back year after year, making them ideal if you want to ‘naturalise’ an area in your garden. Pick a well-drained spot that gets plenty of sunshine, toss your bulbs into that area, then plant them where they land. The idea is to get a natural clumped and haphazard display rather than neat rows you would find in a more formal setting. They will do well if you fertilize your crocus every other year, and you should only cut down the foliage when they have fully died off naturally for the season, other-wise you may not get as good a showing of flowers the following year.
Saffron is a rare and highly coveted spice and if you’ve ever brought it you’ll already know it’s literally worth more than its own weight in gold! To grow your own is quite easy – however it takes quite a lot of flowers for a good crop. One flower will produce three strands or ribbons of saffron – so to get a pounds work (450g) you would need about 50,000-75000 flowers! So unless you have an acre of land…..
If you’re planning on growing saffron for your own use however, 50-60 flowers will probably get you a tablespoons worth.
Harvest by hand – even commercial growers have to harvest saffron by hand – that’s why it’s so expensive.
The good news is thanks to crocus’ brilliant ability to naturalise –each year they will multiply and flower again giving you an ever increasing display – and stock of spice!
Our fragrant autumn flowering crocus Sativus has been grown for their expensive spice in Britain since the Tudor times. These beautiful purple flowers bloom in Autumn where you can remove their red ribbons with tweezers to collect the spice for your own use.
This unique colouring of bronze and yellow blooms are shaded with lilac along the outside with a creamy yellow inside. A pure delight for early spring that, if left undisturbed will multiply year after year.
The Narcissi or daffodil as is it more commonly known, is one of the most recognisable perennial bulbs in the British garden, and has been for centuries. The joy that these simple to grow bulbs can bring is no more prominent that in the poem entitled “I wandered lonely as a cloud” by William Wordsworth where he stumbled across “a host of golden Daffodils”. The sight of Daffodil flowers dancing adds thoughts of joy and pleasure to the poet and to millions of British gardeners for centuries. Plant bulbs in the autumn for a superb spring show, ideal for borders, rockeries, pots on the patio, or even in hanging baskets.
Easy to plant
Daffodils are one of the easiest bulbs to have success with and are suitable for gardeners of all levels of experience. Plant at least 10cm deep or approximately three to four times the depth of the bulb. Space as desired or plant in clumps for a cluster display. Daffodils prefer a spot well sheltered from the wind, preferably with plenty of access to sun. Daffodils are best planted in well drained, fertile soil. It is important that you keep the soil moist during the growing season and allow the leaves to die back naturally before deadheading. They can be lifted and moved once the foliage has died off or they can be left to naturalise when planted in grass or under trees, where they can be left undisturbed for years.
Hardy Bulbs which can naturalise
Daffodils are a great choice as they are hardy perennial bulbs which will come back year after year. They are very simple to grow and will even naturalise if left undisturbed for years.
Wordsworth even makes reference in his famous poem to their ability to naturalise and multiply, as they stretch in a “never-ending line” along the fields and below the trees.
Double Flowering Daffodils are cultivated for one or more flowers per stem and are perfect for creating that ruffled effect that stands out from the crowd. We have some great varieties available for flowering in early spring or mid spring. Double Daffodil and Narcissi bulbs are suitable for planting in autumn and flowers burst onto the scene in spring. Perfect for planting in a colourful border!
These dainty daffodils are fragrant and charming! A great choice for patio containers and pots, or the front of a border. Available in a range of golden yellow and traditional white Narcissi bulbs. Plant in autumn and wait for a colourful spring display.
These can offer up to five pendants on each stem and a superb naturalising Daffodil perennial bulb. Browse our range below and plant in autumn. They make a great border Daffodil but are also suitable for planting in areas where little else grows such as under trees and woodland scenes.
Breath-taking flowers that really do offer something a little different than traditional varieties. Orchid Daffodils propel a gorgeous split cup or cornona that gives the flower the appearance of being an orchid, hence their name. They are a great addition to any spring garden display and are also very effective as cut flowers. A real Jewel in the Daffodil bulb range.
Free flowering, these produce amazing shows in spring. Tazetta Daffodil bulbs can produce up to an amazing 20 small flowers per stem making them superb value and ideal for growing in border, rockeries and patio containers. Fragrant Poeticus Daffodil bulbs are great for naturalising and will create an abundance of small cups in a variation of colours with large white petals.
A huge congratulations to our competition winners!
We have had a phenomenal response to this year’s competition and the standards have been particularly high so a big thank you to everyone who entered – you made it very difficult for us to choose!
Our Gold Prize of £100’s worth of J Parkers vouchers goes to Deborah Fox for this lovely group spring bulbs shot.
Our Silver Prizes of £50’s worth of J Parkers Vouchers go to Jenna Sanders for her crocus shot, and to Kim Fletcher for her Allium and Snail image.
Our runners up will all receive a Bronze Prize of £25’s worth of J Parkers Vouchers. They are: Barry Roberts, Bellinda Ferretter, Hayley Bromley, Isabelle Johnson, Jay Rae, Patricia Baird and Teresa Sherman.
Once again a huge thank you to everyone who entered, you’ll be able to see lots more of the entries from this and previous years on our facebook and pinterest pages from next week.
Geums were once a severely overlooked plant, often used to plug the gaps in a cottage garden scheme. But then suddenly everyone started noticing new bright, zesty flowers colours appearing all the time at flower shows boasting spectacular long flowering times turning these beauties into stars in their own right.
A fantastically useful plant, they are disliked by slugs and snails so are very useful deterrents in the garden. Boasting disease free foliage with a neat compact habit and the pretty flowers, they are a great addition to any display. The evergreen/semi evergreen foliage with is excellent for smothering weeds making them very useful groundcover all year.
Each stem produces lots of buds that will flower in succession, giving you a long summer display. Good for cutting but get the most out of them in the garden first.
New bright and zesty colours making them suitable to star in the garden instead of juts filling the gaps!
Geums don’t tend to come true when seed raised, which is why there are lots of interesting crosses out there so a great variety on offer.
Position: There are three different groups of cultivars rivale, coccineum and chiloense. The rivale have nodding, bell-like flowers. They like moisture retentive soils and prefer to grow in shade or semi shade. Coccineum are an alpine plant, flowering well after a cold winter and have upward facing flowers. The choloense are tall, sturdy plants producing large double flowers and can tolerate full sun as well as semi shade.
Soil and propagation: Geums like moisture retentive soils and will benefit from an annual mulching. Low maintenance but if you divide them when they start to loose growth from the middle they will last much longer, bringing years of pleasure. You can also take cuttings from the base in early spring.
They may succumb to powdery mildew at the end of the summer, just remove any affected stems. Prune back hard after flowering to give the foliage a boost for the rest of the year.
Geums are very popular for Cottage Garden style designs and work really well with lots of perennials. Featuring a few well places Dahlias amongst your Geums will make them more of a colourful backdrop to the main event. Make them pop by paring the red, yellow and gold tones of geums against purples from Alliums or Pulmonaria. You can enhance the golden shades by planting daisy like Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Coreopsis or Helenium.
If you need good coverage in a shaded area why not try planting with Helleborus, which boast a similar stock of healthy evergreen foliage but will flower earlier in the year, giving you dashes of colour throughout the seasons as well as a constant lush green coverage.
From the inspiring and profound, to the practical or the downright silly! We’ve collected some of our favourite quotes to feed your enthusiasm and get you out into your gardens.
A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
– Greek proverb
Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
One of the least arduous but most productive of gardening jobs, the magic of deadheading never fails to delight me. It was a revelation when the principle was explained to me: that flowers are the attempt by the plant to reproduce itself. So if you cut the heads off before the flower turns into seeds, the plant will continue to flower.
Plant and your spouse plants with you; weed and you weed alone.
My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.
Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.
The striking, showy flower heads of the humble Allium have long been a favourite of the modern cottage gardener. Blending beautifully into a summer perennial border, tall statuesque Alliums will cheerfully tower above lower growing plants just a seamlessly as smaller Alliums will add a zing to the front of a low border or edge.
Easy to grow and versatile enough to be able to be grown in borders, flower beds, patio pots and containers, where they really will pack a punch. A must have impact plant for spring and summer.
Beyond the garden Allium flowers and seed pods are excellent additions to cut flower displays. If you’re feeling creative they can be dried and sprayed to use as festive decorations.
Not just a pretty flower…
Also known as Ornamental Onions, Alliums are from the onion family and are a fantastic addition to any garden. They are great for deterring Aphids, protecting other plants in your garden as well as themselves making them excellent companion plants.
Loved by bees…
Over the last few years we’ve been running a Spring flowering Bulb Competition (see details for this years competition here) and as these past entries show, (above) Alliums are highly attractive to bees! Great for the wildlife friendly gardener.
For the best results position in full sun, and in well drained soils. For poorer soils treat with potash feed in the spring, which will help all your spring flowering bulbs and encourage them to return the following year.
Plant from early autumn at three or four times their own depth. The gaps you leave between Alliums will depend on their mature size, as well as your overall design ideas! For smaller Alliums plant 10cm apart, the larger varieties will need at least 25cm in between. We indicate planting depths/distance for individual varieties on their own product pages.
Most Alliums will do well in containers as long as you give them enough space. They need a good 4cm of compost beneath each bulb, so choose deep pots, and for soil use any multipurpose compost, such as John Innes No 3. Some prefer to mix equal parts soil to horticultural grit. Re-pot each autumn.
Allium Superglobe Mixed
This spectacular mixture of medium and tall Alliums varying in shades of creamy white, pink, mauve to the deepest purple-violet to create an amazing firework like display in your summer garden.
Those beautiful leaves…..when they’re no longer beautiful!
One of the most striking features of Alliums is the long, sturdy stems that keep those amazing pom-pom like balls of flowers suspended on high. From the base of the Alliums grows lush, lance like swords of green foliage. As the flowers fade the basal foliage will wilt and turn brown. Unsightly as it is, don’t try to remove the leaves until they have all completely died off or you will stop the bulb taking enough food for winter to ensure it comes back the following year. If you are including Alliums in your flower bed and border design it’s a good idea to ensure to surround them with low growing plants that flourish in late summer to screen the foliage as it browns. Lavender likes similar conditions to Alliums or Hardy Geraniums will come in after the Alliums and continue to the end of summer.
Thanks to their increasing popularity, Allium varieties such as Purple Sensation, the huge Globemaster variety, and Spharocephalon – more commonly known as The Drumstick Allium – have become staples for many gardeners.
However the more you delve into the species, the more weird and wonderful specimens you will find!
Can’t decide which Alliums to plant?
In this guide, our resident gardening expert Jeff shares his knowledge and advice on the different varieites of Alliums, to help you choose which Alliums are best suited for your summer garden displays.
These stunning, long prized flowers are grown for their beautiful brightly coloured bowl shaped flowers. The silky, long lasting flowers have the texture of crepe paper and their introduction into the summer and autumn garden is a great way of making a statement. Perfect for a border or rock garden display, they also make excellent cut flowers.
We supply as loose roots, much easier to grown than from seed, and once established these are very low maintenance and last for years.
Plant in prepared soil, with a hole large enough to firmly hold the roots. They will do well in any fertile soil but it must be well drained. Taller varieties may need support.
For best results plant in an area where they will get at least 6 hours in full sun. Choose your location carefully, once planted they really don’t like to be moved! Oriental poppies thrive in the cooler spring temperatures and will go dormant once the high heat of summer sets in so it’s best to plant amongst late summer bloomers that will fill the gap they leave behind. Deadhead as needed, but when their season is over allow to die back and don’t overwater during summer as they won’t come back next year.
The brilliant scarlet poppies are probably the most well known but there have been several different colours breed from pure milky white to beautiful shaded picotee varieties. Find all our Papaver varieties here.
Oriental Papaver bloom from spring to mid-summer, dying back in the height of summer. After being the crowning glory of your beds and border, the loss of the beautiful flowers and luscious bushy foliage can leave quite a gap in you garden. The best solution for this is to plant them among some late flowering perennials that will happily take their place. We’ve selected a few of our favourites that flower at the right time to fill the gap.
A perfect replacement for an oriental poppy. This new and improved compact variety of the Chocolate Cosmos produce beautiful velvety chocolate coloured flowers and a much stronger chocolate scent. Flowering from July to October and producing lots of bushy, compact foliage, as well as the gorgeous rich maroon coloured flowers, this is a great choice to fill the gap when the oriental poppies die back in June.
The lovely rust-like effect on the petals of this Helenium make it a really interesting choice in the garden and a great flower to perk up the gaps left by striking Oriental Poppies. Flowering from June to October, its tall, daisy-like fiery orange and yellow petals contrast dramatically with its striking brown centre. A hardy and vigorous plant, and very easy to grow.
One of the most popular Dahlias, and a perfect replacement with its gorgeous red flowers and masses of dark foliage flowering from June to October. A great performer that with its colouring will blend harmoniously with your garden design. Highly attractive to bees and as an extra bonus, this variety is an award winner holding the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Kniphofia are a great late summer flowering perennial and we’ve chosen Red Hot Poker as a great companion plant, flowering from June right through to October. It is a statuesque, upright perennial which produces fiery red clusters of spiked buds on its tall, tubular stem, opening into orange flowers which slowly fade to yellow. Its lush, evergreen foliage, flaming colour palette and impressive stature make it the perfect addition to gardens in need of height and vibrancy.
These impressive patio plants are also known as Angel’s Trumpets. The magnificent flowers on this tree like plant are perfect for growing in large tubs on a sunny patio. Best to move indoors or to a greenhouse in winter.
An amazing sight on a summers day – these climbing plants, commonly known as Passion Flowers, produce a constant flow of exotic shaped flowers throughout summer. The summer fruit is edible and can be used for making jam, for a good crop grow in a greenhouse.
This fragrant beauty is heavy with masses of dainty yellow flowers bubbling over its feathered foliage. Only when its growing on your patio will you appreciate why its name was given to a very popular cocktail!
Ever thought of growing your own Grapes? They are a magnificent treat and will grow really well in a greenhouse. Or if you don’t have a greenhouse and are a little short on space we have a whole range of Dwarf Fruit Trees that will make an excellent addition to your patios or conservatory. For exotic flavours try Figs, Limes, Lemons, Mandarins, or our newPepino Melon.