My ‘good value’ plants are the ones which are easy to grow, improve the look of the garden all year or which come up every year without much attention. It always cheers me up to see these emerging in Springtime.

Polyanthus (which flower at the top of a stalk) and Primroses (which flower at ground level) can bloom for 7 months of the year, from autumn to May/ June. They do well in the ground and are widely used in tubs and bedding schemes in town centres and gardens (For a full slide show scan the article on page 33 in May’s magazine using Layar App. Their wide range of wonderful colours, extreme hardiness, and reasonable prices, make them popular. From May the space in tubs will be needed for summer bedding. Polys need shade in summer so plant them under shrubs or put them in large pots in shade. Water and feed them and they will flower again in autumn and spring. When planting summer bedding, wait until mid-May as frost can kill plants.

Evergreen Euonymus are also very good value. Slow growing and compact, their leaf colours are in combinations of green, white and yellow, some tinged with pink in winter. They withstand frost and drought and look especially good in spring, with leaves in brighter colours, which complement the yellows, blues and purples of spring plants perfectly. Their smart appearance all year round makes them ideal for front gardens and positions near doors and windows.

VariegatedTulips are also easily grown but they sometimes stop flowering. Th e answer is to water them well and feed with Fish, Blood and Bone. Simple varieties, with ‘egg shaped’ blooms, flower better after the first year than doubles or Parrot types. Buy in autumn and plant them in pots near the house, then move to gaps in the garden after flowering. Early, mid and late flowering tulips give colour from March to May.

Damp shade does not suit many plants but Dicentras and Astilbes thrive there. ‘Bleeding Heart’ (Dicentra spectabilis) has ferny, bronze leaves which emerge in April. These can reach 18 inches
or more and have red, heart shaped flowers hanging from their arched stems. Th ere is also a white flowered form (alba) which has lime green foliage and pure white ‘hearts’. Both are very pretty and stay in flower for about 6 weeks, then disappear completely (like daffodils) but, if placed close behind Astilbes which flower a few weeks later, the gap will not be noticed. Astilbes bloom with feathery flowers of white, pink or red and are very hardy and long flowering. Enjoy growing these ‘good value’ and gorgeous looking plants.

Happy gardening from Diane Clay at Picturebook Gardens

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