What you should be planting now to ensure maximum spray for the summer
While March can sometimes feel more like winter than spring, now is the time to start sowing seeds if your cherished outdoor space is to flourish in the summer months.
The beauty of cosmos is not just the beautiful, delicate multi-coloured foliage that radiates away from long stems, nor the fact this low-maintenance plant will reach full maturity in two months and hang around for the lion’s share of the summer.
Instead, perhaps its greatest attribute is the rich, spiky, complex foliage that accompanies it just a couple of inches below. This can look stunning in itself, and will quickly fill unsightly, patchy or earthy areas of beds.
Sweet peas need to be sown by April and should be placed deep into pots or modules so their ranging roots can be left to produce a perfect flower. And when that arrives, so too has summer, with flourishing curtains of colour spilling out of long stalks and clinging to any nearby supports.
Keep them well watered and use a high potash fertiliser when flower buds arrive; plus the more you pluck these delicately scented flowers, the quicker they’ll grow.
A favourite as far as bedding plants go, petunias offer colour, detail and durability all wrapped together. They’ll be present until late autumn, and are just as good in hanging baskets for the way they elegantly roll over the sides of containers.
From single and double blooms, to checked, veined, single-colour or striped, they have a fine essence that lifts and refreshes.
One of the fast-growing perennials, lupins should produce flowers in their first year, and placing them in a sheltered position in the garden will ward off most enemies.
If you get the look right, these tall, conelike buildings of flower will amaze and enchant, as well as providing a wonderful base for ladybirds and bumble bees.
This is a gorgeous cup-shaped flower that offers rich shades of red, orange and yellow. It won’t hang around for long but will be with you from May through to early July, and can be best preserved in full sun.
By late summer, this tender flower will lose some of its resilience, but the story doesn’t end there. Simply pick your remaining poppies and add to food, either direct into a salad or as a garnish.
Lobelias are the edging border’s plant of choice, and will grow in full sun or partial shade, with tall spikes give way to dark, bright red flowers. They’ll last well into the frosty parts of early winter, so if you’re looking for colour, variety – they come in upright and bushy varieties – plus longevity, the ‘cardinal flower’ should be on your list.