Daffodils

These springtime favourites are a popular choice for beds and containers 

Daffodils are planted in autumn and spend the next few months cementing their roots before bursting into colour in spring. 

Keep them happy 

  • Daffodils thrive where many plants might struggle to grow.
  • They'll do well even in the inhopsitable soil at the base of a wall
  • Good drainage and plenty of sun are their main needs
  • They are hardy to -5C (23F), but they don't enjoy wet winters 
  • When they're happy they will multiply rapidly 

Lavender

With it's much-loved scent, this classic plant thrives in UK gardens

Nothing conjures up a warm summer garden better than the delicate scent of lavender. Most commonly grown are the hardier lavenders.

Often known as English, French and Dutch lavenders they'll flower in succession to make a long-lasting display. 

Choose carefully and you can have lavenders blooming or weeks on end. 

First to bloom are French Lavenders. Some, such as Fathead, live up to their name with very rounded flowers, but whatever they variet each had intricatey patterned heads, topped with distinctive tufted ears.

Next to bloom are the English lavenders Ducth Group will flower intermiddedly until autumn.

Keep them happy

  • Lavenders need sun and thrive in alkaline soils with excellent drainage 
  • If you want to grow them on heavy soil before planting, French lavender will cope with slightly acidic soils
  • Once established, lavenders are drought resistant, but potted lavenders and young plants need watering well
  • Prune lavenders to stop them getting leggy, but trimming to just above the old woody growth in late summer after flowering. Prune Dutch lavenders in spring

Poppies

Sow these beautiful varieties of the field poppy for some quick colour 

The field poppy is forever associated with the feilds of Flanders, where it sprang into life in the disturbed soil, creating vistas of blood red flowers.

Although there are about 19 species of poppy in the wild, the only annual poppy with which it could be confused is the smaller-flowered, long headed poppy, another British native.

The field poppy and its varieties are easy to grow, hardy annuals to place in borders where their short lived flowers are produced for several months.

They can be sown in patches in mixed borders for some quick colour or sown with other annuals such as phacelia, larkspur and English marigold to create a wildflower meadow.

Being a hardy annual, seeds can be sown in September or in Spring, from March to May.

Where soil is heavy, seeds can be raised in cell trays and planted out 20-30cm (8-12in) apart. 

Poppies prefer a sunny spot and a not overly rich soil. When sowing direct in the garden, thin out the seedlings to 20cm (8in) apart as soon as they're large enough to handle.

If they're not deadheaded regularly, most poppies will self-seed, so you will have them in the garden for years to come. 

Epimedium

There are many plants whose flowers create impact en masse, but fewer whose individual blooms demand closer inspection, such as epimediums

Epimedium flowers possess fascinating detail, four petals sat within petals, the tips often elongated into arching, narrow points.

Colours vary too, from the tone of caramelised, spun sugar, through golden yellows to rich, translucent reds.

This group of herbaceous or semi-evergreen, woodland perennials mainly come from China, but also elsewhere in Asia and parts of the Mediterranean.

They live in damp woodlands, slowly colonising the ground through an intricate web of needle-like rhizomes.

Members of the berberis family, Berberidaceae, they really come into their own in spring, when the flush of fresh, new, shield shaped foliage is often intricately patterned or rimmed in earthy-red tones, eventually fading in most species by early summer to form weed-proof clumps of leaves. Some also flush with colour in late summer and autumn.

Airy sprays of flowers on long, thin stems appear among the emerging leaves – they look great with other woodland flowers such as primroses and anemones.

Growing epimediums

  • Epimedium need shade or semi-shade and moisture at the start.
  • Working compost into the planting holes, especially among tree or shrub roots, with an occasional watering, will really help.
  • Once established, they’ll look after themselves, some even tolerating dry shade, such as E. warleyense, E. versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ and E. rubrum.
  • By the new year, the foliage can look tatty, so trim with shears before new leaves and flowers appear.

Sedums

With starry blooms Sedums attract bees and butterfies

There are more than 600 species of sedum and, although some are frost tender, those from the northern hemisphere include some really useful garden plants. Most are succulent with fleshy leaves and stems, and although the starry flowers are small, they are often produced in such profusion they cover the leaves completely.

Many make useful ground cover or rockery plants and are often used to plant green roofs, but perhaps the most popular are the large herbaceous kinds. 

The grey leaves of the larger types, often tinged with purple, are attractive all summer.

Their heads of starry blooms, mostly in shades of pink, attract butterflies and bees and are perfect in front of late asters and chrysanths.

All sedums prefer well-drained soil and will survive drought, though the bigger kinds tolerate moisture and will grow in average conditions.

They all prefer sunny sites and may get straggly and not flower so well in shade.

The low-growing varieties are best grown on rock gardens, or in gravel, but may be troublesome because each leaf can grow into a new plant.

This isn’t the case with the larger kinds, which should be divided every three or four years.

Pinch out the growing tips of the large varieties in May to increase bushiness and help prevent stems flopping later in summer.

To find out the best Sedums for bright autumn colour, pick up your copy of Garden News in shops today, or subscribe to get the latest issue!