When planting up pots for the warmer months the rows and rows of begonias, lobelia and petunias are a tried and tested way to bring colour and interest into the summer garden. But this year why not try something different.
Annuals like the begonias, lobelia and petunias mentioned above aren’t much cop for bees. The pollen has either been bred out of them or buried deep within the frilled petals. What bees like are accessible open-faced flowers that they can gorge on.
One of the simplest container combinations is Cosmos ‘Sonata,’ a smaller form of the ever-popular ‘Purity,’ but bred for pots, with Cerinthe Purparescens ‘Honeywort’. The fanciful Louis XIV pantaloons of the Cerinthe pair beautifully with the simple daisy white flowers. This is particularly effective in an old zinc tub.
Or for a zippier combo with lots of clashing impact, plant Cerinthe with the orange Californian poppy. This planting suits wicker baskets.
Some of the more open-faced Dahlias and Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower) are also good pollinators. Like the cosmos and cerinthe they’ll flower for months on end giving you lots of cut flowers to bring inside.
If your style is more formal Dahlia’s are fabulous in mixed plantings for height and glamour.
Edible container garden
If you haven’t got space for a veg patch, or even if you do, growing edibles in containers can be very decorative.
You can go for the swanky option and plant salad leaves in contrasting colours then place the bowl somewhere prominent and pinch leaves to eat in the passing. If you grow cut and come again salad leaves you can take a leaf or two from each plant without ruining your display and the leaves will soon re-grow.
Ruby chard is a hugely ornamental veg, here is it grown singly but it sits well with companions – a few blue cornflowers and little alpine strawberries create an easy cottagey effect.
Mixing edibles and flowers will always be a winner; marigolds combine the best of both worlds and can tossed prettily over salads. Seek out Indian Prince, a wonderful variety.
Planted singly in pots grasses look contemporary and add a certain classy something to your plot. Use them for height and as focal points to create lines of sight and draw the eye further into the garden, or as punctuation points, or urban doorstops. This is Pennisetum Mountain Ruby Grass.
Smaller grasses like Brixia Media ‘Quaker Grass’, or Hordeum Jobatum, Squirrel’s Tail work well in containers.
Or, Lagurus Ovatum, ‘Bunny Tails’ with the swaying lacy umbels of Orlaya Grandiflora. There’s plenty of movement and if you toss in a few Oriental poppy seeds – the deep red flouncy petals of Scarlet Peony are very jolly – you’ll have colour and fun too. The seedheads provide added interest when the flowers are over.
Still Stumped for Ideas
Hostas are the perfect solution for cool green relief in shady spots. Old stumps are fairly easy to come by, hollow out a home for them in the stump and they’ll be quite content.