Gardening Magazine

3 Plants for Quick Impact in a New Garden

By Plantedd @Plantedd

The clocks have just gone forward. After the snowdrops and after the winter aconites have heralded the arrival of spring, and retreated once again, I can be sure that the garden has now shrugged off the worst of the winter. Looking around this weekend, there are things coming through the soil that I'd forgotten were there in the first place and there are others that I'm still waiting for, expectantly and hopefully. (Please let the Paeonia obovata var. alba make it...)

It's also a busy time trying to make sure that the pots and trays of seeds get their turn in the best spots at the windowsill. As well as growing for myself this year, I'm also thinking about what plants might be good for my brother's garden when his family move into their new house. The plants need to make an impact in the first year, so I'm looking for things that grow like they're on fast-forward but won't end up taking over the whole garden in the years after.

I think the following plants fit the bill and it'll get me started in trying to come up with a list of more plants that are also easy to grow from seeds or easy to increase from cuttings.

  • Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) 'Valentine'

One for the kids and the grown-ups too. This has cool lemon yellow petals and a dark brown centre, and I think it looks much more at ease in a border with other plants than some sunflowers. It reaches around 5 feet and each plant will have multiple flower heads. Like all sunflowers, they're hungry plants and will appreciate good feeding and moisture.

  • Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) 'Lauren's Grape'

The flowers of this poppy are a rich purple with a darker red-wine stain at the base of each petal. This is something to grow in drifts through a border. It reaches a reasonably good height for a poppy - around 2-3 feet - so it doesn't get lost in the crowd. The deep color works particularly well with blues and pure whites.


Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff'. Photograph: Mike Freedman/Creative Commons

  • Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff'

This has better foliage than you usually get with dahlias. The leaves are quite divided, almost like a fern's. The flowers are a pure, bright red and the whole thing can get to about 5 feet tall. Dahlias are tender (they can die from severe frosts) so it's best to start them off inside and wait until June to plant them out. 'Bishop of Llandaff' looks good next to plants with fresh green foliage, like the Japanese banana (Musa basjoo), Colocasia esculenta or Helianthus salicifolius.

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