John Stoa offers his suggestions for seasonal planting that keeps the colour in your garden.
Choice of plants is always a personal matter, but garden centres have such a wide selection that plants can be tried for a few years then dug up to be replaced by the next garden fashion accessory. It is hard to visit a good garden centre and not come away with at least one new plant.
The gardens of today may be smaller than those of the past as we no longer have a need to grow all our own vegetables and fruit, and many find they have a lot less time. However, it is still good to grow a few very special plants to bring our gardens to life at least once a year.
Popular today are plants that are easy to grow, pest and disease free, have long-lasting colour from flowers or foliage, give good ground cover and are not invasive or too tall. We all want colour but without too much effort, even with one small border or even a few large tubs, so it is important to choose the very best plants.
A larger garden has scope to have colour all year round with a wide choice of plants, but many smaller gardens can be an absolute treasure with just one well-grown plant giving a memorable burst of colour for a couple of weeks. I have noted several Dundee gardens with one brilliant azalea, one rhododendron praecox, one philadelphus and oriental poppies. Camellias are also favourites.
My borders start the flowering season in winter with jasmine climbing over a fence under-planted with snowdrops. Aconites are nearby in a drift surrounding a pure white hellebore (the Christmas rose). Then in spring, a drift of anemone blanda dies down for a summer rest to be replaced with cyclamen hederifolium which flowers in late summer before the leaves emerge.
It is important to make the most of the space available. Plants can be very accommodating when growing happily together, but at different depths. My winter border of coloured-stemmed shrubs is attractive from October to the end of February. Then they get pruned to ground level as the snowdrops take pride of place, to be replaced by the crocus two weeks later. Another couple of weeks later, then the tulips take over.
In July, my lilies get the border to themselves, being supported by the young shoots of my cornus and other coloured stemmed shrubs. Lilies are also useful companions to dwarf Japanese azaleas, and they both grow happily together.
The garden bursts with colour in spring and early summer, but by August other garden areas have their moment. Fuchsia Mrs Popple is in full flower and combines well with the white anemone Honorine Jobert.