Posted: 11/08/2014 at 11:30
I'm a somewhat novice gardener but here are a selection of flowering plants and shrubs I would always have.
1. Marigolds. Calendula officinalis (common or pot marigolds), Tagetes patula (French marigolds and Tagetes tenuifolia (Signet marigold). All three give lovely warm summer colour and will flower through to the first frosts as long as they are deadheaded. The last two produce the most wonderful strong and pungent fragrance and if you keep the deadheaded flowers you will have hundreds of seeds every year.
All three are loved by butterflies and some bees.I try and avoid the double flower marigold varieties as they're not bee friendly.
2. Aquilegia alpina (columbine 'alpina') This smallish bushy perennial is gorgeous and has a deep true blue colour and lots of flowers from spring through to midsummer, and sometimes beyond. It responds well to deadheading and self-seeds quite freely. Again you can harvest seed to plant elsewhere or give to friends. Bees absolutely adore this plant and it provides an early nectar source for them,
3. Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus). I don't think a garden is complete without a a few sunflowers. I have to say they dominate my garden from midsummer through to October. I grow a few different varieties, from dwarf 'teddy' plants to giant single and multiple flower head ones. And from whites through to reds. Very easy to grow and will grow in almost any soil.
I've seen them grow from cracks in the pavement and this year some of mine self-seeded amongst the decorative stone in the middle of my garden, in dense clay soil. The only drawback in growing them is you have to stake the taller varieties because they will go over in any significant wind.
They are also bee magnets!
4. Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudifllorum). This hardy, medium sized shrub gives you lovely star-like yellow flowers on arching branches through the winter into spring and dark green foliage all year round. Although not a climber it can be trained up an arch, trellis or fence. many varieties are beautifully fragrant. It also has the advantage of being largely pest and disease resistant.
5. Violas (Viola tricolour). Just the prettiest of flowers! The variety of colour and pattern appears to be infinite. Most of mine are grown in baskets and containers but I've had some self-seed in the borders and the stone of the garden, which I'm very happy to let grow.
6. Plains coreopsis or tickweed (Corepsis tinctoria) Beautiful branching flowers on slender stems that sometimes need staking. The flowers have vivid crimson centres surrounded by ochre yellow, the colour pattern sometimes reversed. In my garden this mid to late summer flower complements the hot colours of the marigolds and sunflowers.
7. Mexican or mock orange (Choisya × dewitteana 'Aztec Pearl'). A lovely evergreen small to medium sized shrub with lovely fragrant flowers in spring, and sometimes again in autumn.Loved by bees, but also by a small green caterpillar which attacks the growing tips of the plant. I pick them off by hand but the infestations are never so bad as to affect the overall health of the plant.
8. Spirea 'Grefsheim' (Spiraea × cinerea 'Grefsheim'). This is a small to mediium sized shrub with arching branches and tiny white flowers in clusters along the branches. It's deciduous, flowering in the spring.
And finally, daffodils, primroses/primulas, irises and anemones for late winter and spring.
My small garden is east-facing and gets the sun from early morning through to about 1-2pm in the summer. The soil is deep compost on a clay base.