Summer bedding

Every year we combine reliable performers with a few new experimental varieties. We have used different quantities of different varieties to give us different colour blends and heights throughout the display with most of the plants set out informally.

We often use pink or white Cosmos and Cleome to give height and colour at the backs of borders with Dahlia ‘Blue Beyou’ which is pink and purple for medium height. We also like Castor oil plants, Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita Pink’ in the main displays, and choose the red form in borders as its leaves are ornamental in appearance and contrast well with the other foliage. When we need shorter plants we often grow a combination of white Bizzy Lizzy or Impatiens, green flowered Moluchella or Bells of Ireland, scented Heliotrope and Cerinthe.

The green spires of Moluchella break up the blue and white of the Heliotrope and Impatiens. The Heliotrope also gives you the added bonus of an excellent scent as does the foliage of the Cleome. However the plants that have really impressed are the Ricinus and the Impatiens as they have proved to be excellent plants for interest all through the season.

The Ricinus are planted out at the beginning of June and just get bigger and better as the season goes on. Do remember that all parts of this plant are highly poisonous and extreme care should be taken when using it. Between the foliage, flowers and seed heads there is always something to look at and the pink form goes well with the other plants. Elsewhere in the garden we have added the red form to the hardy displays where it has done equally as well.

The Impatiens have been a real success. Like many other people we had stopped growing the waleriana type due to the mildew problem. Then we tried the Sunpatiens which are a hybrid that has the New Guinea type as a parent. We have had absolutely no problem with mildew so far and they are happy in sun or shade. What we like about them is that they grow quite tall - about forty centimetres, and they flower all season.