Annuals and Biennials
These are great plants for adding that "little extra" to the border. As their lives are short they tend to flower their socks off, filling the garden with colour and interest. By changing them from year to year, you can have fun experimenting with different styles and colours until you find your own favorites. Below Ben has listed some of his "must have" annuals and bi-annuals.
Cleome spinosa 'Helen Campbell'
An elegant Cleome with clean and pure white flowers that lasts all Summer and happily goes into Autumn. The leaves are palmate in shape, mid green in colour and healthy, which compliment the pristine flowers giving the plant a fresh appearance. The young flowers begin to open at the apex of the plant, with the seedpods becoming more prominent as you move down the stem. Adding both colour and texture this plant is great for bridging the gap between the early and the late perennials.
Tough with a reasonable in growth rate make this plant great for filling gaps in the border. Plant in a sunny position in any reasonable soil, pinching out the main stem to encourage branching. Also great for cutting although the small thorns on the stems should be removed first.
Maximum Height and Spread: Approximately 1.2m x 0.5m
Cosmos bipinnatus 'Sweet Sixteen'
A very cheerful Cosmos cultivar with pure white flowers, which are tinged with blackcurrant coloring that bleeds inwards from the darker, outer edges. In the centre is a random looking double frill that adds interest and substance to the light airy flowers. These are complimented by the light foliage and habit that typical of the genus, giving a soft and tactile appearance.
Fast growing and quick to fill gaps, this plant is best placed in full sun in nearly all but the heaviest of soils. By deadheading prolific flowering can be achieved from mid Summer through to the end of Autumn.
Maximum Height and Spread: Approximately 1.3m x 0.6m
Verbascum blattaria f. albiflora
A delightful biennial that makes the perfect addition and romantic accent to an existing border. During the summer of the second year, ethereal spires up to 1.3 metres tall arise from tidy rosettes of ruffles, dark green leaves. The small white flowers gradually open up along the stem to reveal central clusters of hairy, purple filaments. Once pollinated the flowers give way to ornamental spherical seed pods that resemble dark currants.
This Verbascum is self seeding and great for softening the appearance of a new garden, giving seasonal interest, detail and charm. Simply lift and re-position seedlings to their desired position in their first year. Side shoots and extended flowering can be encouraged by trimming back the central stem. Most happy in a sunny and free draining site.
Maximum Height and Spread: Approximately 1.3m x 0.2m