Loved by pollinators, with large pompom flower heads, alliums make a statement in the garden. Bursting into bloom in June, Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ may be the most popular but alliums come in shades of purple, white, mauve, pink, and yellow with a range of flower head sizes which remains attractive as a seedhead even through winter.
Grow alliums among low-growing herbaceous plants like hardy geraniums, which will hide their unsightly strappy foliage after flowering. Alliums are quite drought-tolerant and are total sun-worshippers so grow them in moist but well-drained soil in full sun. Try to find a sheltered spot to avoid the tall flower spikes being blown over and you will be rewarded with this reliable perennial coming back year after year.
Osteospermum jucundum, commonly known as the African daisy, is a great choice for a low-growing, long-lasting, pop of colour in a sunny spot in well-drained soil and makes a great choice for a container on a sunny patio. The blooms close up at night which often means on a cloudy day, they will prefer to stay shut.
A member of the daisy family, Asteraceae, osteospermum is a half-hardy perennial so it may need protection over winter and some grow it as annual.
Cranesbills, or hardy geraniums, are perennial border plants which are easy to grow but more importantly are tough as old boots. Flowering for months on end often from July to October, with prolific saucer-shaped flowers in shades of pink, purple, and blue, they provide great ground covering clumps to hide a multitude of sins.
Hardy geraniums are not fussy and will thrive in sun or shade. They are magnet for a number of pollinators, particularly bees and can be lifted and divided easily to make more plants for free.
Shady spots in the garden can be more difficult to manage but hardy hostas thrive in a shady setting in moist, fertile soil so they are great for adding interest to darker corners. Most hostas will produce tall purple or white flower spikes in summer which extends their season of interest.
Hostas are attractive to slugs and snails so be vigilant in protecting the leaves, some people prefer to grow them in pots to offer added protection. In winter, hosta leaves will die back completely and the young hostons shoots will re-emerge in late spring to reward you with another year of these clump-forming foliage delights.
A useful, low-maintenance climbing shrub for a north-facing wall or shady fence in the garden is Hydrangea petiolaris. Slow to get going, often making little new growth in the first few years, this is one to bear with as the lush, green growth is complimented by delicate, white, lacecap flowers which are just lovely when they make their gentle appearance. They are such a great climber to hide a fence or wall but the wonderful thing about them is that they are self-supporting, clinging to the walls or fences by adventitious roots so they are virtually maintenance free.