A plot with a plan; Gardening; Biennials all about timing.
Byline: with Adrienne Wild
THE key to creating a great garden is forward planning.
Rather than just sit back and enjoy how amazing it is now, you need a vision of how your plot should look in the months to come.
And you should already be thinking of next spring and early summer, so it is never too soon for new ideas.
Biennials such as hollyhocks, foxgloves and Canterbury bells take two years to complete their lifecycle.
But they grow easily from seed, so be generous and plant in bold drifts.
Prepare a seedbed in a sunny or partially shady spot and sow them in short rows, well spaced out.
In autumn, transplant them to their flowering positions to get roots well established over the winter before they have to perform simple as that. Biennials - sometimes described as shortlived perennials - tend to be pretty promiscuous. They freely self-seed so they will be back every year, giving great value and a few surprises.
Good examples are aquilegias, honesty and Icelandic poppies such as Papaver nudicaule Summer Breeze Orange, which scatter seeds far and wide after a dramatic first season.
Now is the ideal time to sow forget-me-nots and wallflowers, or erysimum, to fill between tulips and euphorbias.
Sow them direct on bare ground in lines so you can see where the weeds are then transplant them to their flowering positions in October.
Pinch out the growing tips of wallflowers to create bushy plants and to get rid of any very late vigorous growth that will be hit by early frosts. Alternatively grow them in pots, starting off under cover and moving to a cold frame until early spring.
Tall single colours such as Sunset Purple, Sunset Red and Fire King give a tapestry of rich velvety blooms with a sweet honeyed fragrance, ideal for bringing in butterflies and bees. The variety Ivory White also makes an excellent cut flower.
And consider Sweet Williams, which will provide armfuls of fragrant white, pink and red flowers for cutting all summer long.
If you want to maintain a good display of biennials each summer, your best bet is to sow seeds over two successive years - or they eac ove will disappear from your garden.