Can you feel it? The little sizzle that says spring is on its way; that subtle lengthening of the days, the sense of anticipation in all the garden birds and the unmistakeable frisson that the odd warmer day sends through your veins.
Never is a season so eagerly anticipated as spring, especially for gardeners. Seeing the garden surging into life, buds bursting and tender new leaves pushing forth is the promise of lighter, lovelier days to come. But it’s also when I wish there was more actually in flower and when I regret having not done a bit more planting in the autumn.
It’s not too late though. The great thing about the top spring bedding plants is that they’re every bit as good planted in spring as they are if you planted them in the autumn. And, more importantly, the garden centres and nurseries are full of fantastic fresh stock just waiting to find a happy home in your garden. Here are my favourite spring bedding plants for inspiration…
My Top Ten Spring Bedding Plants
A firm favourite bedding plant available in all sorts of colour and mixes. I love the ones with ‘faces’ such as Joker and Marina as they’re just so jolly. The colour-themed mixes are brilliant for co-ordinated planting of a pot or hanging basket. Citrus mixes such as Zest look especially great with miniature daffodils. Sunshine in a plant pot.
The more diminutive cousin to pansies, these are incredibly versatile and pack far more punch in a pot than you might think. Dot them in among other plants, in raised garden beds or in the borders to give a bit of a colour lift or use them in baskets, pots and window boxes. I like the Jump Up series with their sparky colours, and the Sorbet range adds a touch of class.
Primroses are all about flowering so, if you planted your primroses in the autumn, they have probably been flowering for ages already. Plant some of the rich blues and pinks, such as Alaska, now to give any planter a jolt of instant cheer or keep it subtle with the Heritage cream types that are close to the native creamy yellow colour.
With their tall stems and tough showy heads of flowers, polys are not for the faint-hearted, but they do have bags of pizzazz and will make a statement that spring is well and truly here. There are some lovely scented varieties around these days and you can’t go wrong with the clear bright colours of the Crescendo series. I like the glowing orange-tinged yellow of Firecracker too.
Gone are the days when you had to plant your wallflowers as straggly specimens in autumn. Now you can buy bushy, lush plants in spring that are already flowering. I always forget just how fragrant wallflower scents are from one year to the next and the waft of Sugar Rush from my window box must knock the passers-by out as much as it does me. They are pricey so use them wisely, as a headline plant mixed in with a few cheaper primroses and violas or a single potted plant on a bench or table. Just make sure you can catch that scent.
These are a firm favourite of a friend of mine. She loves the soft pinks and whites of their densely packed, lion’s mane of petals and thinks they have a gentle look about them. They are far less strident than some of the spring colours, that’s for sure, and they are incredibly easy to grow being a more elaborate form of the common lawn daisy. I think they’re charming dotted in the border with forget-me-nots for a real cottage garden look.
If you buy nothing else this spring, treat yourself to a few pots of miniature daffodils. These early little bloomers are perfectly formed little rays of sunshine guaranteed to lift your spirits. Pop them in your plant pots, baskets and window boxes wherever you can, plant little clusters in your bare borders or simply place them in a nice pot somewhere you can see them from the window. Once they’ve finished flowering make sure you plant them in the garden, and they’ll be back next year.
These little bulbs or corms are not really a bedding plant as such but nonetheless, they are incredibly useful for spicing up your spring show. Cyclamen coum might be small and a bit expensive but, like the daffodils, they’re here to stay and will persist in the garden for years. Create a woodland glade in your window box with them – add in ferns, moss and a handful of dainty primroses to complete the look – but do make sure to plant them in a dappled shade spot of the garden afterwards.
What are your favourite spring plants? Are you planting any raised garden beds this year? Let us know in the comments.