Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Can you have a favourite flower colour by accident?

If I had to choose my favourite flower colour it would not be pink, but after looking through my hundreds of garden photos I realised what an important role pink flowers play in our garden, and maybe yours too if you stop and think about it.
Papaver somniferum (opium poppies) come in a wonderful range of pinks

Pale pink flowers have a soft, luminous quality that is less harsh than white flowers and is particularly lovely in the shadier parts of the garden.
These blush-pink foxgloves appeared for the first time this year. Our usual white ones must have been cross-pollinated with a pale pink one. I have collected seed and will sow them soon. The seedlings should develop into leafy rosettes next year, for flowering in 2018. Let's hope the new plants will be a similar shade.
Brighter pinks also seems to blend beautifully with any other colour, even vibrant reds and oranges. However, be careful when planting different tones of pinks close together. In a previous garden I made the mistake of planting Clematis Nelly Moser, which has pink and white flowers, through a pale pink rose. They flowered profusely at the same time and produced a horrible mismatch between the two different shades of pink.
The vibrant bright pink flowers of Lychnis coronariaheld on wiry stems above a neat rosette of silver grey leaves, compliment and contrast with so many other colours. We let them self seed around the garden and the result is always a pleasing combination, like this pairing with the nodding heads of Anemone Dreaming Swan, which almost doesn't work.
I think pink is an invaluable colour in the gardener's planting palette, although I still can't say that it is my favourite colour. What follows are just a few of the pink-flowering plants that earn their place in our garden.
A peachy-pink foxglove that has been flowering for months.
A paper-thin poppy that also has delicate glaucous foliage. It was the only plant that grew from a packet of Papaver rhoeas Mother of Pearl that I scattered in spring (which is not the best growing method when you have free-ranging chickens). I will definitely be growing more next year.
We grow Meconopis Napaulensis for its stunning evergeen leaves. It is monocarpic, which means that it dies after flowering, so it is always a little sad to see a flower stalk emerging. However, this year one of the plants has been unfurling gorgeous pink flowers for months.
Our plants of Dierama pulcherrimum, known as Angel's fishing rods, have taken a couple of years to settle in their spot by the pond, but the dangling heads of flowers have been worth the wait. The seed heads continue to create interest once the flowers fade.
Water lilies in our pond have put on a stunning display this year.
Spirea are small deciduous shrubs that seems to cope with most conditions. We have several in the garden which we grow for their colourful foliage, but they also produce lovely pink flowers early in the year
One of my favourite plants, Dicentra prefer a cool, semi-shaded spot and will produce carpets of dainty flowers over heavily divided foliage in spring and early summer.
Heralding the start of spring, the scented flowers of Magnolia loebneri Leonard Messel. A great choice for a small garden. We selected this plant after a trip to see the National Collection at Caerhays Castle in Cornwall.
This species tulip always catches the eye in the spring sunshine.
The pincushion flowers of Astrantia look pretty in a midsummer mixed border. After the first flush of flowers cut back to the ground for fresh new growth.
The warm pink thistle-like flowers of Cirsium rivulare Atropurpureum are a magnet for bees.
Clematis triternata Rubromarginata flowers for weeks in late summer and has a wonderful almond scent.
Hesperantha are invaluable for fresh colour in autumn. Their narrow strappy leaves are almost evergreen and they cope with a variety of locations.
Pink flowers are common on Hellebores, but they are no less lovely for it.
Rosa Francis E Lester has pretty single flowers flushed with pink. Don't prune after flowering and you and the birds can enjoy orange hips in autumn. 
The unusual hooded flowers of Arisaema appear in spring before bold leaves.

I suggest that you take a walk around your garden, or a leaf through your photos, and see how many pink flowers you have. If you don't have many, maybe you should think about getting some!


Our to-do list

Cutting back - the foliage of Astrantia and Geranium usually begins to look tired at this time of year. Cut the whole plant back to the ground and fresh new growth will soon appear.

Deadheading - annuals and dahlias will keep producing flowers if you snip off the faded flower heads.

Collecting seed - collect the seeds of spring-flowering biennials such as foxgloves and Lunaria (honesty) and sow the seeds this autumn.

Sit and enjoy - don't forget to spend some time just sitting in the garden, watching the birds and bugs and enjoying your garden in the sunshine before autumn is upon us.