Flowers but oh so much more..

I am guessing that for my friends, family, acquaintances, clients; fellow bloggers, twitterers and facebook friends the essence of my passion for plants and flowers is a very evident and consistent thread throughout all my tweetings, bleatings, bloggings and shouts!

And so today, when I spotted a request from Benjamin Runyard at Higgledy Garden for a guest blogger to write about flowers.. I thought, yes, perhaps it’s time for me to write more about what I’m into besides my weekly ‘Judi’s plant of the week‘ and go into more detail, so here goes.

I am a professional gardener and now in my second year of business I am delighted to be utilising my passion and growing knowledge about plants and especially enjoying and sharing with clients their flowers, colours, perfume, textures, as well as their subsequent seeds. I also love the huge array of leaf form, colours, texture and shapes and try to weave them into planting schemes.

I am bit concerned that there are still people out there that feel the most visually interesting and rewarding time of the year in the garden is summer. I dearly want to share the joy of the other three seasons when it comes to choosing plants that will give you pleasure across the year and I can prove it!

Of course, it would be a tall order to ask just any one plant to do this and so by planting in succession, each plant’s individual delights captivate your eye, heart and soul within your garden, across time. I recently put together a planting scheme for a client that included scented flowers in spring, flowers and perfume in summer, changing colour leaves, stems and berries for the winter, all to be repeated each and every year. And all this beauty and sensual feasting across the seasons can be achieved in just half-a-dozen plants or so.

Try planting these in your garden to watch the many delights unfold:

Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’ with a beautiful creamy-white open flower head perfect as a landing platform for pollinators in summer, with matt green and cream leaf pattern and vivid red stems during the winter after leaf fall. The colour of these dogwood stems backlit with winter sun is absolutely stunning. See if you can spot some near where you are, they can often be seen in communal planting schemes along roads and roundabouts.

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ has the most heady and exquisite perfume on her winter / spring borne flowers to cheer your chilly soul during the bleakest of winter months. I strongly advise that you go out into the garden and immerse your face into the purple-pink flowers and drink in its perfume, you will be uplifted in an instant. The flowers are followed by black berries, which look even more beautiful with a dusting of snow.

Scabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’ has beautiful pin-cushion flower heads in the most delicate shade of lilac borne upon tall stems and foliage of grey-green. Fabulous flowers that go on producing from spring until first frosts, they look exquisite in amongst naturalistic planting and I have spotted them many times in clusters along the edges of corn fields and hedgerows.

Cosmos astrosanguinius (Chocolate) has dark maroon chocolate scented flowers but alas the flowers are not edible! But the smell is absolutely intoxicating, full of the aroma of cocoa but slightly sweeter, which leaves me always wanting more after I’ve had the first good sniff, I’m guessing that you’ll want to go back for more too.. They really are charming, with almost gold flecks on their stamen, they are too exquisite for words and look absolutely gorgeous next to lime-green foliage, a real zingy zing zing!

Now, I have to confess to having a real big passion for Hebes, I love them and this is why.. I love the huge range of colours and the form of their leaves and flowers, almost pyramid-like spheres each flower-head full of tiny flowers that bees, butterflies and hoverflies can be seen scrambling over for pollen. I particularly love the purples, pinks and whites and the fact that they are evergreen, so that the plant remains throughout the year and isn’t reduced to standing branches as with deciduous shrubs.

Top tip on encouraging your plants to give you a second flowering in mid summer is to cut off the seed heads so that the plant can focus its energy on making more flowers, rather than seeds. You can still collect your seeds after the second flowering has finished!

Iris foetidissima is a beautifully delicate lilac-coloured Iris and with the unlikeliest of reputations to accompany its delicate looking nature, for although a stunner, either in naturalized planting or in amongst your herbaceous border.. the plant hides a secret, which only gets revealed during the autumn. Stinking Iris is its common name and before you leave my blog I want to reassure you that despite the awful name the plant’s surprise will win you over.. for in autumn the seed pods swell and burst open to reveal the most gorgeous vibrant orange seeds packed tightly like a mini-sweet corn and smelling of roast beef flavoured crisps, I kid you not! They do look amazing in the winter garden and are well worth getting hold of.

So, for now I do believe my time is up and I do hope I have demonstrated that flowers in summer can go on to do extraordinary things in the following months. Combine your plants to create schemes full of flowers, perfume, different leaf types, coloured stems and berries and you will have a wonderful garden to captivate you for years to come.

Until next time.. happy gardening!