Summer bedding plants flower profusely all season but naturally die off in winter without some protection. They are really warm climate plants that we grow outside when the British weather is good enough. Often used in parks and town centres, municipal planting of these spectacular colours can go a long way to brightening up our daily lives. And the same goes for your garden.
Petunias are one of the classics. It’s a beautiful trumpet-shaped flower in all sorts of colours, from golds to pinks, reds, blues and mauves, or even multi-coloured stripes. There’s one called Banoffee Pie, with dramatic striped flowers from browns to yellow. They’re an upright, stunning summer standard. Geraniums are another old favourite because they produce masses of flowers all summer, borne on a single stem with blooms on the top. It has a distinctive, fragrant leaf. It’s easy to dig up and bring into a conservatory or greenhouse during winter.
It makes a great centrepiece for a container and a trailing version – the ivy leaf geranium – is good for baskets or window boxes. Marigolds are marvellous – the French dwarf variety and a taller African marigold – range in colour from burnt orange to gold. I grow them in my greenhouse as a deterrent for whitefly, which hate them.
Verbena is another popular upright plant that perpetually flowers in beautiful delicate shapes. Other varieties include fuchsias, both hardy and non-hardy, the latter needing the protection of a greenhouse over winter. Favourites include Shadow Dancer or Blush Violet. Sunflowers are also popular. Helianthus Sensation is a dwarf variety, good for borders, containers or pots.
Finally, lobelia come in amazing colours, making them a perfect finishing touch for tubs. Feeding and watering is key – watch out that they don’t dry out when it’s hot. This will boost blooms and should keep them flowering for as long as the season lasts. Overall, they’re a great addition to any garden.