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How to get summer-long colour in your garden

PUBLISHED: 09:39 11 April 2017

Wasp snoozing in a penstemon (Getty Images/iStockphoto, Shane Cummins)

Wasp snoozing in a penstemon (Getty Images/iStockphoto, Shane Cummins)

Shane Cummins

Stocking up on nectar-rich perennials now is the best way to get summer-long colour in your garden

If you’re visiting a local garden centre this month it’s worth looking out for low maintenance, long-flowering and nectar-rich hardy perennials.

Plants such as Geranium Rozanne, Penstemon Heavenly Blue, Geum Totally Tangerine, Leucanthemum x superbum Banana Cream and Verbena bonariensis will all bring maximum flower power to your summer borders and collectively will give you months of vivid colour from May to October.

I planted Penstemon Heavenly Blue (above) last summer in our community garden in Wheathampstead. Laden with sky blue and violet bell-shaped flowers from July to October it was permanently abuzz with bees and dazzled visitors to the garden from all summer and autumn to first frosts in November. It’s a very easy plant to succeed with, and its origins in the hot dry foothills of California mean that it will thrive in a sunny well-drained border. It’s a plant that’s ideal for an English cottage garden look, particularly if paired with long-flowering sunny border stalwarts like purple Salvia nemorosa Caradonna (sage) and vivid green Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle).

Hardy perennials like these can be planted now while relatively small but over one growing season will quickly bulk up into larger plants, which you can then divide or take cuttings from in October.

5 things to do in the garden this month

(1) Love your lawn

Use a spring tine rake to pull out moss from lawns and re-seed any thin areas with grass seed.

(2) Feed shrubs

Shrubs and newly-planted trees will benefit from a handful of pelleted chicken manure or a general slow release granular fertiliser which will deliver key nutrients over a longer period.

(3) Sow spinach

Spinach is a cool season crop, so it’s ideal for sowing now into a prepared bed. Protect with fleece until germinated.

(4) Plant primulas

Pretty primulas are a great way to inject brilliant colour to the front of borders and beneath deciduous trees and shrubs.

(5) Deadhead spring bulbs

Remove seed heads from spent bulbs to ensure that energy returns to the bulb rather than into making seeds. But do let bulb foliage yellow and die 
back naturally.

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