January’s plant of the month is a cheerful, early-flowering bulb that will bring some much needed colour to your garden in these gloomy months.
Also known as Eranthis hyemalis, winter aconites beam a golden glow into the garden at a time when the sun rarely breaks through the clouds. These golden yellow flowers bloom the earliest of all spring flowers and will delight you with vibrant yellow flowers in January and February.
We strongly recommend trying Winter Aconites to kick off your spring display, and they are particularly recommended for rockeries and naturalising. These gorgeous yellow blooms are contrasted by beautiful green foliage, which covers the ground long after the flowers have disappeared.
Although bulb planting season is at an end, there is still time to get some last-minute colour in your garden. If you’re looking out at a wintery garden and can’t wait for spring, consider investing in our Eranthis in the Green available now ready for planting and flowering this year.
Our Eranthis in the Green offer guaranteed pre-grown success from these Eranthis hyemalis, supplied in the green ready to be planted straight in the ground.
Heuchera are famed for their superb range of spectacular foliage and attractive late spring/summer flowers. Uusually bought for their amazing coloured and veined foliage, the vibrancy of leaf colour alone makes these semi-evergreen perennials a must have.
When many plants in the garden are fading in October, the beautifully coloured and marked foliage of Heucheras really stand out and often become more vibrant.
We have a huge range of Heuchera and Heucherella available, our largest selection yet. These beautiful, colourful perennials will brighten up your garden with a vibrant range of colours and distinctive foliage. Try growing in pots on the patio or at the front of any border (even in shaded locations).
Planting and Care
Choose an area of partial shade for best results, but Heuchera are also versatile enough to cope in the full shade of tricky, hard to fill spots in the garden as well as full sun. They like nutrient rich, well-drained and slightly acidic soil, so be sure to give the space a bit of preparation. Heuchera prefer a site with good drainage so be sure not to over-water and stick to damp soil.
Given their low-growing, compact habit Heuchera are perfect for the front of a border but they will also grow well in pots and look stylish decorating the patio in containers.
Ideal for growing in border, rockeries or in patio containers, try mixing Heuchera together for a rainbow colour effect. The variation and range of colours available is unmatched by any other dwarf evergreen perennial. We have sourced the best varieties to offer, perfect for adding real style to your garden.
Blackberry Jam produce rich purple and maroon foliage, with deep veins. Try growing in pots on the patio or at the front of any border (even in shaded locations). Height 30-40cm.
Our luxury mixture is the perfect choice if you want to get started with Heuchera. A spectacular mixture of 10+ premium varieties, these plants are sure to brighten any border or patio container. When many plants begin to fade, this mixture will bring you remarkable colour all year round. Height 30-40cm.
You can also shop our full range of Heuchera online here.
Commonly known as Red-Hot Pokers or Torch Lilies, these excellent perennials are often forgotten, which is a real shame because the tall spikes of colour are as useful an addition to a garden border as the cottage garden favourites such as foxgloves or hollyhocks.
The vibrant tall spikes of colour are a great addition to a border. They work well in hot, zesty themed displays with their multitudes of vivid orange, red and yellow tones.
With their tall grassy foliage they work particularly well planted amongst contrasting ornamental grasses to add a dramatic burst of colour and texture.
Native to Africa, they will thrive in a sunny spot in the garden and are very easy to grow and maintain. Plant in humus-rich, well drained soils. They will cope with dryer soils, they don’t like waterlogging. Water as well when they are growing but keep dry.
They will do well in coastal climates.
Deadhead after flowering but leave the plant alone over winter. Give them a tidy in mid-spring, remove any dead leaves, slugs and snails that you find attacking the new flowers, and cut the dead flower spikes right out at the base of the plant, any stumps left behind are a nice house for pests so best avoided!
These spectacular plants, also known as Russian Sage are incredibly popular right now, and it’s easy to see why.
Producing impressive tall spires of silvery leaves topped with spikes of gorgeous, tiny, violet purple bell-shaped flowers bloom in late summer. Loved by butterflies and bees, it makes a great cut flower with its lovely scent, which is a mixture of sage and lavender. Perovskia atriplicifolia Blue Spire holds an RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Native to central Asia, Russian Sage’s natural habitat is on dry plains and they are natural sun lovers. They are deciduous shrubs which, once established, are hassle free, drought tolerant (in fact they prefer it) and need an annual pruning in spring.
Perovskia will grow well in any soils, even poor or chalky, as long as they get really good drainage, water-logging will lead to root rot. They like to be in full sun and can withstand seaside air.
Prune hard annually in early to mid-spring for a healthy plant and better flowers that year. If you don’t they will come back week and floppy and generally be an untidy mess.
Cut back previous years flowering stems to within one or two buds of the older woody framework. Remove thin, weak and damaged growth. Then mulch and feed. For the first year keep them moist but not soggy to get them established. In following years they will withstand significant neglect!
They are best planted out in autumn when dormant – if you buy one that is in leaf in the spring be sure it hasn’t been growing in a poly tunnel as it may struggle when you expose it to the elements in your garden.
Russian sage is mainly used as an ornamental plant and is pretty versatile for pairing with lots of late summer ornamental grasses and perennials. You can create a really powerful display planting near other silver leafed perennials, near a lavender bush for example, and as both are bee magnets they are a great choice for wildlife friendly gardens. Tall bright coloured perennials will also look great with it in a mixed border, for examples look at Geums, Sunflowers, Rudbeckia and Helenium to name a few!
You can also try under-planting with spring bulbs, such as Tulips or Alliums, as they will do well at hiding the bulbs foliage as it dies off in the summer.
Geums were once a severely overlooked plant, often used to plug the gaps in a cottage garden scheme. But then suddenly everyone started noticing new bright, zesty flowers colours appearing all the time at flower shows boasting spectacular long flowering times turning these beauties into stars in their own right.
A fantastically useful plant, they are disliked by slugs and snails so are very useful deterrents in the garden. Boasting disease free foliage with a neat compact habit and the pretty flowers, they are a great addition to any display. The evergreen/semi evergreen foliage with is excellent for smothering weeds making them very useful groundcover all year.
Each stem produces lots of buds that will flower in succession, giving you a long summer display. Good for cutting but get the most out of them in the garden first.
New bright and zesty colours making them suitable to star in the garden instead of juts filling the gaps!
Geums don’t tend to come true when seed raised, which is why there are lots of interesting crosses out there so a great variety on offer.
Position: There are three different groups of cultivars rivale, coccineum and chiloense. The rivale have nodding, bell-like flowers. They like moisture retentive soils and prefer to grow in shade or semi shade. Coccineum are an alpine plant, flowering well after a cold winter and have upward facing flowers. The choloense are tall, sturdy plants producing large double flowers and can tolerate full sun as well as semi shade.
Soil and propagation: Geums like moisture retentive soils and will benefit from an annual mulching. Low maintenance but if you divide them when they start to loose growth from the middle they will last much longer, bringing years of pleasure. You can also take cuttings from the base in early spring.
They may succumb to powdery mildew at the end of the summer, just remove any affected stems. Prune back hard after flowering to give the foliage a boost for the rest of the year.
Geums are very popular for Cottage Garden style designs and work really well with lots of perennials. Featuring a few well places Dahlias amongst your Geums will make them more of a colourful backdrop to the main event. Make them pop by paring the red, yellow and gold tones of geums against purples from Alliums or Pulmonaria. You can enhance the golden shades by planting daisy like Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Coreopsis or Helenium.
If you need good coverage in a shaded area why not try planting with Helleborus, which boast a similar stock of healthy evergreen foliage but will flower earlier in the year, giving you dashes of colour throughout the seasons as well as a constant lush green coverage.
The striking, showy flower heads of the humble Allium have long been a favourite of the modern cottage gardener. Blending beautifully into a summer perennial border, tall statuesque Alliums will cheerfully tower above lower growing plants just a seamlessly as smaller Alliums will add a zing to the front of a low border or edge.
Easy to grow and versatile enough to be able to be grown in borders, flower beds, patio pots and containers, where they really will pack a punch. A must have impact plant for spring and summer.
Beyond the garden Allium flowers and seed pods are excellent additions to cut flower displays. If you’re feeling creative they can be dried and sprayed to use as festive decorations.
Not just a pretty flower…
Also known as Ornamental Onions, Alliums are from the onion family and are a fantastic addition to any garden. They are great for deterring Aphids, protecting other plants in your garden as well as themselves making them excellent companion plants.
Loved by bees…
Over the last few years we’ve been running a Spring flowering Bulb Competition (see details for this years competition here) and as these past entries show, (above) Alliums are highly attractive to bees! Great for the wildlife friendly gardener.
For the best results position in full sun, and in well drained soils. For poorer soils treat with potash feed in the spring, which will help all your spring flowering bulbs and encourage them to return the following year.
Plant from early autumn at three or four times their own depth. The gaps you leave between Alliums will depend on their mature size, as well as your overall design ideas! For smaller alliums plant 10cm apart, the larger varieties will need at least 25cm in between. We indicate planting depths/distance for individual varieties on their own product pages.
Most Alliums will do well in containers as long as you give them enough space. They need a good 4cm of compost beneath each bulb, so choose deep pots, and for soil use any multipurpose compost, such as John Innes No 3. Some prefer to mix equal parts soil to horticultural grit. Re-pot each autumn.
Those beautiful leaves…..when they’re no longer beautiful!
One of the most striking features of Alliums is the long, sturdy stems that keep those amazing pom-pom like balls of flowers suspended on high. From the base of the Alliums grows lush, lance like swords of green foliage. As the flowers fade the basal foliage will wilt and turn brown. Unsightly as it is, don’t try to remove the leaves until they have all completely died off or you will stop the bulb taking enough food for winter to ensure it comes back the following year. If you are including Alliums in your flower bed and border design it’s a good idea to ensure to surround them with low growing plants that flourish in late summer to screen the foliage as it browns. Lavender likes similar conditions to Alliums or Hardy Geraniums will come in after the Alliums and continue to the end of summer.
Thanks to their increasing popularity, Allium varieties such as Purple Sensation, the huge Globemaster variety, and Spharocephalon – more commonly known as The Drumstick Allium – have become staples for many gardeners.
However the more you delve into the species, the more weird and wonderful specimens you will find!
These stunning, long prized flowers are grown for their beautiful brightly coloured bowl shaped flowers. The silky, long lasting flowers have the texture of crepe paper and their introduction into the summer and autumn garden is a great way of making a statement. Perfect for a border or rock garden display, they also make excellent cut flowers.
We supply as loose roots, much easier to grown than from seed, and once established these are very low maintenance and last for years.
Plant in prepared soil, with a hole large enough to firmly hold the roots. They will do well in any fertile soil but it must be well drained. Taller varieties may need support.
For best results plant in an area where they will get at least 6 hours in full sun. Choose your location carefully, once planted they really don’t like to be moved! Oriental poppies thrive in the cooler spring temperatures and will go dormant once the high heat of summer sets in so it’s best to plant amongst late summer bloomers that will fill the gap they leave behind. Deadhead as needed, but when their season is over allow to die back and don’t overwater during summer as they won’t come back next year.
The brilliant scarlet poppies are probably the most well known but there have been several different colours breed from pure milky white to beautiful shaded picotee varieties. Find all our Papaver varieties here.
Oriental Papaver bloom from spring to mid-summer, dying back in the height of summer. After being the crowning glory of your beds and border, the loss of the beautiful flowers and luscious bushy foliage can leave quite a gap in you garden. The best solution for this is to plant them among some late flowering perennials that will happily take their place. We’ve selected a few of our favourites that flower at the right time to fill the gap.
A perfect replacement for an oriental poppy. This new and improved compact variety of the Chocolate Cosmos produce beautiful velvety chocolate coloured flowers and a much stronger chocolate scent. Flowering from July to October and producing lots of bushy, compact foliage, as well as the gorgeous rich maroon coloured flowers, this is a great choice to fill the gap when the oriental poppies die back in June.
The lovely rust-like effect on the petals of this Helenium make it a really interesting choice in the garden and a great flower to perk up the gaps left by striking Oriental Poppies. Flowering from June to October, its tall, daisy-like fiery orange and yellow petals contrast dramatically with its striking brown centre. A hardy and vigorous plant, and very easy to grow.
One of the most popular Dahlias, and a perfect replacement with its gorgeous red flowers and masses of dark foliage flowering from June to October. A great performer that with its colouring will blend harmoniously with your garden design. Highly attractive to bees and as an extra bonus, this variety is an award winner holding the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Kniphofia are a great late summer flowering perennial and we’ve chosen Red Hot Poker as a great companion plant, flowering from June right through to October. It is a statuesque, upright perennial which produces fiery red clusters of spiked buds on its tall, tubular stem, opening into orange flowers which slowly fade to yellow. Its lush, evergreen foliage, flaming colour palette and impressive stature make it the perfect addition to gardens in need of height and vibrancy.
The stunning flowers of the Rhododendron have earned them a legion of fans, and quite right too! Some varieties of full size Rhododendrons will simply keep growing until they grow into giant trees, although you can prune them down, these larger varieties may not be an option in your garden.
This month we’re taking a look at some stunning dwarf varieties. The compact growth habit of these shrubs give them an outstanding formal appearance, making them ideal for small city gardens or courtyards where space is at a premium. They’re even small enough to slot nicely beneath taller shrubs in the border, or grow nicely in a rock garden.
Prepare the ground by digging in plenty of compost, neutral or acidic organic matter, or leafmold etc. Plant so the roots are covered, not too deep and apply a good layer of mulch lightly over the surface, don’t pack it down. Re-mulch and feed with an ericaceous fertiliser each spring.
Ericaceous fertiliser? This is for plants that are not as happy in limey soils. It’s a lime-free acidic compost that was habitually made with peat – however as awareness that adding peat to soils is bad for the environment you can now easily find peat free varieties to buy.
Dwarf varieties can cope with positioning in full sun but need evenly moist, well drained soils so keep on top of watering them in the hottest part of summer. Rhododendrons like lots of water and use rain-water if you can – you should particularly avoid tap-water if you live in a hard water area. As with larger Rhododendrons they won’t do at all well subjected to frost so take care to protect them and avoid areas you know are prone to it in your garden.
Nothing creates a carpet of colour like an Aubrieta in early spring! These fantastic, very low growing plants range from deepest vibrant shades to the palest almost white hues in a range of violets, purple and pinks.
The traditional single Aubrieta produce dainty four-petalled flowers over mounds of hairy foliage.
They used to be a common sight on rockeries, although rockeries are a less common sight themselves these days. They are very eye-catching trailing over walls and can even be grown in containers and will last right into May.
Named after Claude Aubriet, a French botanical painter they are commonly known as Aubretia. They grow in the wild in Europe and Central Asia.
Aubrieta are quite happy in most soils and can handle a little shade, but for the best results they like alkaline soils and a position in full sun.
Trim right down after flowering to around half its size and you’ll get a fresh growth of foliage for the summer followed by masses of new flowers in the spring. Apart from that they will happily look after themselves for the rest of the year.
Clusters of dainty red-pink single flowers form a strong mat of colour throughout April and May. A fully hardy variety this is such useful and versatile plant in the garden. Fabulous at the front of the border or in rockeries it’s also great for containers. Loves full sun but will tolerate some shading and is an ideal plant for dry, chalky areas. An ideal plant for growing on slopes or up walls. The Royal Horticultural Society has given Red Cascade their Award of Garden Merit. Height 10cm, spread 60cm.
Sweeping clusters of dainty blue-violet single flowers form a strong mat of colour throughout April and May. A fully hardy variety this is such useful and versatile plant in the garden. Fabulous at the front of the border or in rockeries it’s also great for containers. Loves full sun but will tolerate some shading and is an ideal plant for dry, chalky areas. An ideal plant for growing on slopes or up walls. Height 10cm, spread 60cm.
Looking for something a little bit different….?
Double Flowered Aubrieta. If you’re already a dab hand with Aubrieta why not try these lovely new double varieties?
Aubrieta Double Pink
Lovely lilac-pink double flowers with a dainty yellow centre. A great low maintenance creeping perennial plant that will quickly produce a thick mound of extravagant ground cover. Ideal for rockeries and borders, will also grow well in containers. Although it will tolerate partial shade, Aubrieta is happiest in full sun light in well-drained soils. 3cm diameter jumbo plugs supplied.
Aubrieta Blue Beauty
A beautiful vibrant double flowering Aubrieta. This royal blue Aubrieta will spread rapidly, producing a mound of dense ground cover. Ideal for the border, overhanging walls or in rockeries, loved by bees. . Aubrieta is naturally suited to cool climates so is at its best in the spring, it will thrive if you plant it in well-drained sweet (or alkaline) soils in full sun. Try planting with Helianthemum (Sun Rose), another brilliant creeping ground cover plant that will flower in summer when the Aubrieta starts to decline. 3cm plug plants supplied.
Aubrieta prefer cooler conditions so will start to look bedraggled as the summer draws in so choose a ground cover plant that will cheerfully follow it and enjoy the warmer weather!
Here’s a selection of some great ground cover plants that like similar conditions to Aubrieta and flower from May.
The sight of snowdrops appearing late in January is a cheerful reminder of the warmer, brighter days to come. Happening on them in the wild is a real treat, but they are easy to grow and radially available so why not grow them in your own garden?
There are a huge variation in size and shapes, and they are great naturalisers, so will multiply and come back year after year.
You can plant dry Bulbs in the autumn or from January to March you will be able to buy snowdrops in the green. In the Green simply means that you plant the snowdrops whilst they are in leaf. You can buy them like this, or when your bulbs come through you can lift dense clumps of snowdrops and transplant them elsewhere which will create a better display but also give the snowdrops more space and encourage them to flower better next year.
You can buy Single or DoubleSnowdrops in the Green in January – March.
The most common and easiest to grow is….. Glanthus nivalis, also known as the common or garden snowdrop. They are robust and easy to grow and have earned a RHS Award of Garden Merit. These are single flowering, with three inner petals marked green at the tips encased in milky white outer petals and strappy grass like foliage. The flowers has a sweet, honey scent that will attract bees. These traditional small-flowering Snowdrops give a barren winter garden a breath of life, and give a wonderful woodland feel if planted in drifts beneath a deciduous tree with Hostas. You could plant in patio pots or window boxes for a neater, more compact temporary display. Top quality plants supplied. Flowers January to March. Height 10cm.
The same features as the common variety but much taller, perfect for use as cut flowers. Galanthus elwesii is a spectacular giant snowdrop originating from eastern Asia. Elwesii’s honey scented nodding flowers are formed from an outer whorl of snowy white tepals encasing smaller inner tepals, flared and marked green at the tips. Fine 15-20cm stems sport dainty strap shaped leaves. Galanthus Woronowii, also known as the Broad Leaf Snowdrop, is a giant white snowdrop with green markings. It’s beautiful nodding honey scented flower heads can appear as early as January. Both varieties hold the RHS Award of Garden Merit. At this time of year we can only offer Snowdrops in the Green but these varieties will become available as bulbs in our autumn catalogues.
Puschkinia are a little known spring bulb, however, it is one of the easiest to grow and is very reliable. They produce dainty white flowers with a blue blush that forms a stripe effect on the petals. This hardy bulb will naturalise and multiply like snowdrops producing a carpet of colour in March and April after the snowdrops have flowered, but before the bluebells. This fabulous pretty flower holds the prestigious Award of Garden Merit. These can be brought as bulbs from June, throughout Autumn.
They prefer shade, and work really well amongst shrubs or under trees. Ideally they like fertile, moist but well drained soils.
Bulbs: Plant in moist, well-drained soil at least 5cm deep and 5cm apart. They can be grown successfully in pots and containers but only temporarily and will need to be lifted after their growing season.
In the Green: transplanted with their green foliage intact giving you a guaranteed 100% success rate. Make sure to water well once planted, to encourage their roots to re-establish with the soil.
They naturalise well and you can just let them die back at the end of their season so require little after care. If you get heavy, dense clumps of snowdrops in one place lift and divide the clump when the foliage starts to fade, careful not to break any of the roots.
Make sure the soil does not fully dry out in summer.