Summer flowers: a personal Top 10

by James Alexander-Sinclair

I don't know about you lot but I'm extremely bored of snow, frost and cold, and I need something distinctly unwintery to lift my spirits.

Flowers in a summer border displayI don't know about you lot but I'm extremely bored of snow, frost and cold, and I need something distinctly unwintery to lift my spirits.

I could eat a lot of chocolate, which would be comforting, though probably not a very good idea if I wish to keep wearing the same size trousers. I could fly off somewhere hot, but sadly that's not terribly practical. Instead, my cheap and easy solution is to talk about summer flowers, with the only proviso being that they can be any colour at all except white.

This idea was sparked off by Nigel Colborn’s excellent blog Silvertreedaze. Nigel listed 50 herbaceous perennial plants without which he would feel bereft. I've decided that what is good enough for the all-knowing Nige, is good enough for you and me, so I'm nicking his idea.

I did, however, think that 50 was a bit too many so here are 10 for a start:

Thalictrum delaveyi - one of many truly gorgeous varieties. As light and transparent as a stripper’s knickers.

Sanguisorba 'Arnhem' - a scattering of little nubbin-like scarlet flowers on long spindly stems.

Epilobium 'Stahl Rose' - so pretty but so very dangerous! This is a willowherb relation that is really only suitable for wilder parts of the garden as it has a tendency to run around a bit. Although thankfully it doesn’t seed itself.

Verbena hastata - I have written about this fabulous plant here before.

Helianthus salicifolia - about the last thing to flower before autumn really hits. About eight feet tall with narrow willowy leaves.

Geum 'Prinses Juliana' - I've always adored this plant. It flowers for ages and is a really clear, spicy orange colour.

Aster 'Monte Cassino' - Nigel chose Aster 'Monch', which is a fabulous plant. I'm going for 'Monte Cassino' because it flowers just that bit later and has very fine leaves.

Monarda 'Neon' - or pretty much any mildew-resistant monarda. This one has bright, bright pink blooms. There is a good red one as well called Monarda 'Squaw'.

Seseli libanotis - OK, so I have broken my rule about white, but this is a wonderful umbellifer. In this picture I planted it with annual cornflowers.

Iris 'Deep Black' - one of the most sumptuously coloured irises. The petals are seductively dark and exotic.

I could go on, and on, and on, but I'll spare you this time.

Feel free to add your own here and do see Nigel’s list. It won’t make the summer come any faster, but at least it's better than pulling on yet another thermal vest.

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Gardeners' World Web User 18/01/2010 at 18:56

I haven't been able to do anything in the garden for months because we didn't have two consecutive days without rain during October, November or early December then we have had snow since 17th December. The snow finally disappeared on Saturday and I spent a truly magic couple of hours gardening in the sunshine yesterday afternoon (Sunday). It felt all the more sweet because it was so long since I had been able to do it. I have made a note of some of the plants you have listed and will be looking for them during the coming months to fill some of the inevitable gaps the snow has caused.

Gardeners' World Web User 18/01/2010 at 19:27

Sounds like some pretty scrumptious plants although I make one of the best chocolate cakes in the South(USA) if the store has enough butter that day.

Gardeners' World Web User 19/01/2010 at 07:36

Nice post, James. My list was straight off the top of my head, done on intuition, rather than thinking. I'd certainly add every one of yours to it. Snow I love, but dull, grey, no-freeze-no-thaw days make me totally miserable. However, last Saturday, as the snow receded, I spotted the first winter aconites in a front garden in our village. What joy! And how uplifting? I'd have to add those to my list too. Indeed, I think I'll work up a list of little chap, next.

Gardeners' World Web User 19/01/2010 at 15:20

Isn't it good to see those lovely flowers in your mind's eye? I have a powerpoint presentation I keep adding to each year on my computer, which I look at when the weather keeps me out of the garden. I call it "The Wow Factor" and there are some lovely photos of single or combinations of plants which always make me go "Wow"

Gardeners' World Web User 19/01/2010 at 22:55

I've been doing the same thing, leafing through magazines and catalogues immersing myself in the wonderful colours. The last couple of days is the first time I've actually been able to see my garden in a month, it's been under 8 inches of snow for 4 weeks. Now the snow has receeded, I am left with a soggy flattened mess that is in desperate need of some tidying, and some colour!

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