If you thought bedding plants were all pink petunias, sapphire blue lobelia and migraine-inducing marigolds, then think again. Whilst you were being a snob and planting up your airy Penstemon and Verbena in your tonal borders, the bedding world changed.. (click on the plant photo to buy it!)
ONE. French Marigold ‘Strawberry Blonde’. Yes, I love this one, and I’ve probably mentioned it before now! Fresh germplasm has been injected (sort of!) into the French Marigold bloodline- and the result is stunning. Whatever you call the colour, it is new, different and unusual. The blooms first open in ruby red, and change through russet tones, finishing on butter yellow. Fancy!
TWO. Cosmos ‘Xanthos’. Cosmos used to be the Goliath of borders- with their gargantuan presence, yet only a small smattering of summer blooms. The YELLOW Cosmos bipinnatus was also much fabled over the years, and indeed existed in Japanese, but was very late to the show, not usually flowering until September! ‘Xanthos’ changes all that, with citrus-yellow blooms, on generously branching plants. God, it’s so handsome!
THREE. Begonia ‘Cocoa Enchantment’. Begonias get a LOT of stick! They are seen as gaudy, fluorescent, plastic, cumbersome, lousy… and all other bitchy verbs…! But, hang on, there’s some cool, contemporary varieties just arriving on the market. ‘Cocoa Enchantment’ has jet-black foliage and sexy teardrop blooms in sugar pink. Swoon!
FOUR. Calceolaria- The Balloon Flower. Playing the kitsch card is the retro Calceolaria! So damn Instagrammable, this little beauty was popular in the 80’s, and indeed some people still turn their noses up at it! But, hang on a minute. Some new breeding has given some tougher specimens, which can be used for outdoor spring containers.
FIVE. Celosia- Flame Flower. I am all about the retro! I remember growing these from seed with my Nana, and it always warms my heart to see them making a (quiet) comeback. Feathery, funky, fun- that sounds just a little kinky huh!