The end of summer might herald cooler days and a last flurry of blooms for heat-loving plants, but that needn’t mean an end to flowers in your garden.
As the days grow shorter, bring some cheer back to the garden with a liberal dose of potted colour for a long-lasting display of cool season bloomers. ‘Potted colour’ means established plants, rather than seedlings. Choosing specimens that are already in bloom allows you to mix and match your colours like an artist – with instant effect.
So, what to choose? There’s no shortage of pretty flowering plants that start to bloom as the weather cools – think cyclamen and chrysanthemum. But for maximum results and the most prolific bang for your buck, think ‘Triple P’ – pansies, polyanthus and primulas. Equally at home in pots or garden beds, this hardy, vibrant trio will quickly transform courtyards, gardens and outdoor living spaces with cheerful, colourful flowers.
The all-time cool season favourite – and their close cousin, violas, come in just about every colour you can think of, including, vivid purples, blues and pinks, bright yellow and black. Happy in sun or semi-shade, and suitable for pots, garden beds or hanging baskets, they will repeat-flower for months as long as you start them in a good potting mix, trim back the spent blooms and give them a dash of liquid fertiliser every couple of weeks. Snails love them almost as much as we do, however, so keep an eye out for these pesky critters too and either pick them off or add an occasional sprinkle of pellets.
These put on a gorgeous display during the cooler months, providing a startling posy of colours – pink, red, bright yellow, blue, cream, orange and white – in a bare garden. Why not pop a big, bright pot of them by your front door for an instant welcome? They love dappled sun and ample moisture, but will even tolerate being indoors for a little while as long as the room is not too hot.
Last, but not least, is the pretty, dainty P – the primula, sometimes called fairy primrose. With clusters of tiny flowers held on tall stems, primulas come in a range of shades, from white through pale pink and purple to cerise. Some varieties even have a faint perfume. Happiest in filtered sunlight or light shade and dampish soil, they look simply delightful in pretty drifts under deciduous trees. Or why not try them as part of a mixed display, their height adding an eye-catching contrast to the upturned faces of pansies.
Invest in one variety, or better still, try all three. Just remember, for cooler colour, think Triple P!