Great Companion Plants For a Cottage Garden: Geraniums

This post about hardy geraniums, popularly called cranesbills, (not the pelargoniums) is the second in my series on companion plants.

Blue hydrangea with geranium companion plant
Blue hydrangea with a geranium companion

What are companion plants?

Companion plants complement the showy ornamentals society loves – roses, peonies, delphiniums and hollyhocks – filling in the gaps in the flower border and helping it flow. They’re pretty enough on their own terms and happy to mingle in, above or below other plants. Good neighbours, they will not compete too aggressively for food, water or space.

Geranium 'Dreamland' with Achillea 'Saucy Seduction'
Geranium ‘Dreamland’ with Achillea ‘Saucy Seduction’

Their presence encourages a healthier ecosystem by attracting beneficial insects which is why companion plants are often recommended for kitchen gardens. To find out more about what makes a plant a good companion, check out the first post in the series, on astrantias. Continue reading “Great Companion Plants For a Cottage Garden: Geraniums”

Hollyhocks At Arley Hall

Hollyhocks seem to tower over a cottage at Arley Hall

The Tudor-style Tea Cottage at Arley Hall in Cheshire is a focal point leading the eye down a broad path. On either side of the path are cottage garden style flowers, such as these flailing hollyhocks, which grow alongside a collection of summer flowering shrub roses and extend the season of interest. The Tea Cottage has been superseded by The Gardener’s Kitchen, but is used for exhibitions, filming and weddings.

For more posts that include pictures from Arley Hall, click here.

Cottage Garden Plants: Pink love-in-a-mist

Various shades of pink love-in-a-mist flowers

Pink seed strains of Nigella damascena seem to be increasingly fashionable at recent British flower shows. It’s a quirky flower, by any standards. Layered petals wheel around a crazy eye above lacy bracts.

The complex, decorative flower form has inspired many folk names. I use love-in-a-mist, but you may know it as love-in-a-tangle, love-in-a-puzzle, kiss-me-twice-before-I-rise, Jack in the green or lady in the bower. Continue reading “Cottage Garden Plants: Pink love-in-a-mist”

Floral Lookbook: RHS Hampton Court 2018

Single hollyhock with cream flowers and bold purple eye
A. Alcea rosea ‘Halo Cream’ with foxgloves
Coral coloured agastache with companion flowers
B. Agastache ‘Kudos Coral’ with Scabiosa ‘Barocca’, Agapanthus ‘Navy Blue’ and Achillea ‘Terracotta’
Double pink hollyhock with foxgloves
C. Alcea rosea ‘Apple Blossom’ with foxgloves
White agapanthus with ornamental grass and richly coloured flowers
D. White agapanthus with ornamental grass, achillea, scabiosa, daucus corata and helenium
Foxglove with pale peach flowers, and darker spots
E. Digitalis ‘Dalmation Peach’ with hollyhocks in the background

Continue reading “Floral Lookbook: RHS Hampton Court 2018”

Cheerleading For Frilly Flowers: Double Peonies

Pink peony

If ever a flower looked like it was wearing a petticoat, this is it. It’s hard to believe this bloom is only partially open. The yellow petals in the centre will gradually become more prominent, but I like the flower at this stage while the outer petals are still a pure pink, and are forming a protective cup around the inner petals.

White peony

The second peony has it all for me: I love the pearly character of the creamy white petals and the way those yellowy petals create an inner glow.  Continue reading “Cheerleading For Frilly Flowers: Double Peonies”

Hidden in Plain Sight: Primrose Hearts

Common primrose | Primula vulgaris

When I saw these common primroses hidden under a shrub in the gardens at Bridgemere Garden Centre yesterday, I marvelled that each petal is a heart. They looked so dainty and exquisite that I wondered if I was looking at one of the latest new cultivars.

I’d been admiring the Victorian-style, gold and silver lace primulas and some ruffled, rose-like doubles on the garden centre benches just a few minutes earlier – and, I confess, wrinkling my nose at a couple of the less dainty cultivars that are being offered this season.

Checking online, I see that every common primula (Primula vulgaris) has heart-shaped petals. How could I have forgotten in just a few months?  Continue reading “Hidden in Plain Sight: Primrose Hearts”