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Using hardy annual plants to create a splash of colour

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe


Using hardy annuals to create some summer colour in your garden is a great way to get some additional colour in your garden especially if you have just started gardening as all it costs is a bit of effort and the price of the seeds.

Amberboa moschata

A tall-stemmed plant with purple-violet flowers, rather like a delicate thistle-head. It’s an easily grown, scented annual that makes an excellent cut flower. Best sown en masse to create a dramatic effect. 75cm high 

Ammi visnaga

Don’t be put off by its common name of bishop’s weed. This voguish plant is like a super-charged cow parsley, but with much bigger, more dramatic flowers. It’s nectar-rich so attracts butterflies and bees too.

1.2m high 

Catananche caerulea

Sometimes called cupid’s dart, this short-lived perennial is treated like an annual in Philippa’s northern garden. The flowers resemble a pretty, lilac-blue cornflower, which means it is a favourite of flower arrangers. Has little in the way of foliage, so plant in drifts for maximum effect.

75cm high 

Calendula officinalis ‘Orange King’

A bright-orange, double flower, which was a favourite of Gertrude Jekyll who used it in large drifts in the garden on Lindisfarne. Simple to grow, it self-seeds gently and keeps on producing flowers if it is regularly deadheaded.

45cm high 

Centaurea cyanus ‘Black Ball’

A dark, almost-black cornflower and a stunner, but best grown in drifts and supported with wire as it has a tendency to flop. The flowers are a bee magnet and last well out of water, making it good for decorating puddings and salads.

75cm high 

Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’

Although it looks quite exotic, with its glaucous blue-green foliage and droplets of dark-purple flowers, this honeywort is a truly tough character, and given dry soil and lots of sun will flower its head off for months. Flower arrangers and bees love it.

45-60cm high  

Crepis rubra ‘Snow White’

This pinkish-white flower, a cross between a daisy and a dandelion, does best in full sun where it will bloom for months. Good for containers too as it likes being kept on the dry side.

60cm high 

Chrysanthemum carinatum ‘Polar Star’

A showy, tri-coloured flower that resembles a child’s drawing of a flower. Its white petals have a yellow inner halo surrounding a dark-brown centre. It also has good lacy foliage and makes a long-lasting cut flower.

75cm high 


Cosmos Plants – Apollo Mix

A compact, bushy cosmos with larger flowers and better petal quality than traditional varieties, therefore providing much greater impact in containers or the garden. It also makes an excellent cut flower. Flowers June-September.

50-60cm high

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