Versatile bearded irises are perfectly at home in most sunny borders, providing classic cottage-garden charm, and sit just as comfortably within a contemporary planting scheme. One of the best things about bearded iris is their resilience and strong garden performance – their ability to withstand freezing winter temperatures as well as very hot conditions and drought in the summer. Despite their grand, exotic-looking flowers, these non-fussy plants are fully hardy, meaning they can live in your garden for a very long time, repeating their beautiful display in early summer year after year.
The first plants I ever grew in the lead-up to my horticultural career were Ranunculi. I was just a child then, but I’ll never forget the thrill I experienced when the first flowers began to open that spring. It comes back to me every time I see Ranunculi in bloom, but these plants have taken a fresh twist, and these days, you can get colours I never dreamed of back when I was a kid.
Flowering from mid-summer to late autumn, beautifully colourful and exotically fragrant freesias provide a refreshing uplift to the garden, picking up the slack just as other summer flowers are beginning to fade. Not only do they extend the season of colour in your garden, but they’re a popular cut flower too. With exceptional vase life and a rich, powerful scent that will fill your home, there’s really so much enjoyment you can get from having your own fresh cut supply.
Agapanthus is a truly impressive, sun-loving summer bulb which will grace containers or borders with their firework flowers in vivid, yet serene shades from mid-summer onwards every year. They’re very easy to grow, too – simply plant the roots in spring and leave them to it. Before long, the lush linear foliage will begin to emerge and the flowers will follow from August onwards.
Creating a Chelsea-style planting scheme in your own garden is easier than you might think. The key is to choose early-summer flowering varieties and plant them close together in beds and borders, and (most importantly) to start them off on time. In this post, discover some of the best summer bulbs and plants to choose to create the Chelsea Flower Show look, plus some top tips on what maintenance jobs you can do to prepare your garden this spring.