Wake up wallflowers! Plant now if you want to pep up borders with spring colour
‘Bulbs?’ snapped my gardener friend, ‘they’ll have to wait. First I’ve got to dig out my summer bedding, then transplant all the wallflowers. The bulbs can stay in their bags until November, if necessary.’
She was right. Spring-flowering plants need time to develop before winter. So the sooner wallflowers and other spring varieties are planted out, the better they will look next year.
Biennials such as wallflowers and forget-me-nots are huge spring contributors. Excellent as formal bedding, they’re also handy for bringing early colour to mixed borders.
That goes for spring-blooming perennials. If you divide and replant now, they will have time to recover and grow before winter. They could bloom during the first warm spell next year.
Spring-flowering plants need time to develop before winter. So the sooner wallflowers and other spring varieties are planted out, the better they will look next year.
Large plants such as yellow, daisy-like doronicums or big, leathery-leaved bergenias have massive garden value.
Lungwort or Pulmonaria are lastingly pretty, with charming pink and blue spring flowers.
Spring biennials such as wallflowers and forget-me-nots last for one season only.
Among online suppliers, marshallsgarden.com offers a good range. Some are sold bare-rooted, others as plugs.
Their Sugar Rush wallflower series is a well-composed mix with white and violet-purple as well as the more usual red, orange and yellow shades.
If you like forget-me-nots, one of the best is Myositis Sylvia Blue, available at crocus.co.uk.
Spring daisies are charming, especially for edging beds or borders. Developed from modest little lawn daisies, Bellis perennis, they develop compact mounds with single or double flowers in shades of white, pink or red. Bellis Pomponette is a striking variety offered by Thompson & Morgan (thompson-morgan.com). The rounded flowers have thin white petals with red tips.
Foxglove spires extend in late spring to flower in early summer. But their large, broad leaves make a pleasing foil among tall-growing tulips or narcissus. In a border, such a mix would help to link spring with summer.
As a peculiar 12-year-old, I once blew my pocket money on an Asian Primula denticulata, loving the purple drumstick flowers. Parkers (jparkers.co.uk) offers this in three colours: purple, pink and white.
Though perennial, it has suicidal tendencies. But in moist soil and full sun it becomes a sturdy clump. Divide that every few years and you will have enough drumsticks for a percussion band. European primulas are easier and grow readily from seed. Polyanthus are reliable and last for ever if divided every second year.
Sarah Raven (sarahraven.com) offers Stella varieties including Pink Champagne and Neon Violet. Other nurseries offer a wide variety of polyanthus and primroses.
Never underestimate the beauty of native primulas. For partial shade, oxlips P. elatior are easy to grow and charming, as are primroses, P. vulgaris. In sun, cowslips P. veris flourish in my mini-meadow.
In a garden, those three natives frequently hybridise. The resulting mongrels are sometimes prettier than either parent. To keep the best of those, mark each with a stick. Then lift, divide and re-plant the divisions next September.