Annuals are an important feature in any garden and may be even more vital this year to plug the gaps left by plants you have lost to the snow and ice. They will also give you colour in the flowering gaps that can occur in June and late Summer. The examples below can be sown from January onwards undercover for early flowering or left until later to fill the high summer garden.You could sow them twice for two hits of colour. Here are some suggestions of seeds that we rely on every year.
This beautiful plant is the mainstay of our Pickery (or cutflower garden) in early summer. We grow over 40 varieties and the scent on a sunny day is pure English summer. We sell mixes and named varieties by mail order so if you would like to order these, see our shop page
This photo shows our heritage sweet peas underplanted with the simple pot marigold. A versatile annual that is extremely easy to grow from its curly seeds; it can be used in the vegetable and herb garden and sown in several batches for a succession of colour. Good for children and, in its simpler forms, for insect life. We like Calendula officinalis ‘Indian Prince’. It has deep orange flowers with a beautiful red sheen to the back of the petals.
The perfect cottage garden or meadow annual. Really easy, cheap, loved by insects and available in 3 or 4 colours. We sow these early and late.The late sown seedlings are perfect for putting into gaps left by early bulbs. If you leave the seeds heads on the plant you can collect seeds or seedlings from your garden in late summer.
I love this annual, it is not grown nearly enough. We came across this plant when we decided to grow cut flowers listed in the Chiltern Seeds catalogue.It will flower twice in a season without any help from you as the seeds drop early and reseed around their base. Look close into the flowers and they are an exquisite two tone deep purple with yellow throat. Again, really easy and a great cut flower.
Rudbeckia hirta ‘Moreno’ :
Although strictly a perennial this works better in areas with hard winters as an annual. In the past we have trialled 15 varieties of Rudbeckias and this is a beautiful variety. Other good forms include ‘Indian Summer’ (recommended to me by Val Bourne) and ‘Dwarf mixed’ (in spite of the name, not very dwarf and an excellent mix of colours)
Nailing Cosmos so they grow well for you can be a proper horticultural challenge. At RHS Wisley they grow well over your head but you can also grow them badly as little dumpy things that are all spindly with a sad flower head. This is one we have had had great success with and is more reliable for us than the better known ‘Purity.’ We are going to grow a range of Cosmos this year to try and add to this one. Great for late summer colour and the single forms are, like most daisy-type flowers, popular with bees. Thompson and Morgan offer a good range including ‘Psyche White’