June can be quite a tricky month for our garden planting schemes. After the first flurry of excitement, and new plant eruptions throughout Spring – March, April, May – it can sometimes feel that the garden starts to fade and get a little bit untidy and unruly. Well, it does in my garden, anyway!
This is the time that you need to show your ‘2nd flush’ of plantings. I like to kick start the Summer season with a bit of colour injection; and what better than a splash of pinky/red tones to brighten your day?
1. Astrantia Hadspen’s Blood
‘Hattie’s pin cushion’ – what a fantastic name for a fantastic little plant. Its paper-like flowers are like little pin cushions – they almost look artificial as their form is so perfect, and they last for so long – giving such great value in any border. The deep pink tones of ‘Hadspens Blood’ always flowers lavishly now as well as a little in September. Be careful not to scorch it though – it loves some dappled shade and a cool position.
2. Achillea Summer Pastels
The tones of this Achillea are varied and surprising, a really soft injection of pastels to soothe the brighter pinks. But what I love most about this plant is its SHAPE and FORM – those amazing flat umbels, look spectacular against the more rounded flower shapes of the Astrantia. All Achilleas, I find, are such ‘useful’ plants for the plant designer. That flat flowerhead gives a strong form to intermingle with the more abundant cones, button and sphere shapes.
3. Angelica Gigas
In Latin – the ‘gigas’ refers to size – as in giant, large, enormous!! The giant indeed – this statuesque plant gives amazing structure at the back of a sunny border. It sends up the most striking structural flower forms – like firework explosions. Look closely, and you can see the perfect symmetry of exploding little ‘star shapes’. Amazing. They last forever, and even when the colour fades, you have that incredible structure that glistens with water droplets, catches the morning dew, and is often seen inter-laced with incredible spider webs!
4. Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’
So, you can probably see by now that I love strong and striking FORMS. This lovely thistle-like plant provides amazing structure – and the most striking colour. Not for the faint-hearted! Another tall, mid-to-back border plant, with wiry stems and thistly ‘tufts’ or ‘plumes’ that erupt from tightly packed buds. I have an allegiance to thistly-looking plants I think, from my childhood growing up in Scotland. I love the Echinops (globe thistles) and the Eryngiums (sea hollys) and this Cursium (or ‘Plume’ thistle) is another clear winner for structure and form…with added beauty!
5. Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’
A bit of a mouthful to name this one!, but, otherwise known as the Feather Reed grass. Quite aptly, I think, as the tufty reddish/pink flowers that erupt from this beautiful, upright, graceful grass, are indeed like feathers. This is such a compact grass – ideal for squeezing in, and mingling between your colourful perennials, it tones in and tones down some of these other reds and pinks. It lasts forever too – something that definitely appeals to me. Its strong, vertical/upright form – gives solid upright lines in amongst other more wirey, sprawling stems. I love it!