In my last blog I wrote about clearing up the last dregs of winter to make way for everything that spring brings to the garden. Now that you’ve got the ground prepared, this time I’m going to look at how to make the most impact for the least money.
You may not have the luxury of an established garden with everything automatically bursting back into life with the first warm breeze. And, if you’re anything like me you’ll be wanting to fill every last inch with colour and texture and squeeze as much value out of every plant as possible.
It’s like all the best sandwich fillings – it’s got to be generous. But, how can you be so generous but economical at the same time? Yes you can sow packets of seeds if you’ve got the time, patience and space, but I think it’s all about the actual plants you choose. Arming yourself with a little knowledge before hitting the garden centre will pay off…
Some plants just win your heart by flowering all summer long and these surely are the ones to start with. Penstemon, Salvia ‘Caradonna’, Gypsophila and Campanula keep going and going. Gaura with its frothy swirling mass of petals gives good value by appearing to occupy a lot of space for one plant. And consider those with ornamental seedheads which give continued form to the border long after the flowers finish, good examples being Sedum, Agapanthus and Allium.
With the right conditions, certain perennials may come into bloom twice in a season, such as Delphinium and lupins.
Stock your beds with self-seeding perennials like foxgloves, Verbena bonariensis and hollyhocks for a succession of colour through the season and new plants for next year. Aquilegia are such generous plants, readily hybridizing with their neighbours to bring about new and beautiful flowers. Annuals only last a single year but very often are self-perpetuating by seeding around themselves.
Don’t panic, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend invasive plants (unless you have the space to fill!). Phlomis, hardy geranium, Ajuga and Alchemilla all provide reliable ground cover, filling in gaps and giving an interesting understorey to an overhead canopy.
Why do I love bulbs so much? Cheap, easy to pop in the ground and reliable. At this time of year plant summer-flowering bulbs like Allium, Agapanthus, oriental lilies and Canna. Place them in a position that you know will receive a good share of sun, in well-drained soil so that the bulbs aren’t at risk of rotting.
And finally, don’t forget that many herbaceous perennials are suitable for propagating by division. Hosta, Heuchera, hellebores and Delphinium are plants which respond well. Simply dig up, split or cut into two or more pieces and replant. You’ll rejuvenate the original plant and increase your supply for free. What could be better.