Spring Term (March - May)
Calendula officinalis (Pot marigold): Slightly aromatic leaves and single or double daisy-like flowers in shades of orange or yellow from summer to autumn.
Helianthus annuus (Sunflowers): Range of colours, not just yellows, such as cream, gold, red, mixed and a variety of heights from dwarf (Teddy Bear), mid and giant (Russian Giant).
Limnanthes douglasii (Poached egg plant): Masses of dainty cup-shaped yellow-centred white flowers from summer to autumn.
Nigella damascena (Love-in-a-mist): Saucer-shaped flowers in shades of blue, rose, pink or white, surrounded by a ruff of ferny foliage. Good for cut flowers and seed pods can be dried for winter decoration.
Tropeaolum majus (Nasturtium): Easy to handle, edible and there are bush and climbing varieties.
Summer Term (May - July)
Winter bedding plants for the following year can be sown from May until July.
Attractive choices include:
Ornamental cabbages and kales (Brassicas - various): Not only green leaves, but white, pink and purple tones and a range of different leaf textures.
Winter pansies (Viola - various): Bright colours, blues, yellows, reds, oranges, purples and whites. Some have mixed colours (blotches) and look like they have a face!
To grow spring bedding for next year, many need to be sown between May and July in order to flower next spring. These are known as biennials, examples to grow in schools include:
Bellis perennis ‘Pomponette’ (Ornamental daisy): Reds, pinks and whites. Pompon-like flower heads.
Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William): Pretty flowers come in pink, white, red and purple and it grows to around 45cm tall.
Lunaria annua (Honesty): White or purple flowers. Once the petals drop from the honesty, you can use the seed pods which are thin pearlescent papery ovals.
Myosotis sylvatica (Forget-me-not): Produce carpets of mainly blue flowers in the spring. Pink and white varieties are also available. Self-seeding, so will reappear year on year.
Good for Wildlife
These flowers can also be sown in the spring term. As well as being ornamental; some hardy annuals will provide nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies and other insects. These include: Phacelia tanacetifolia (Green manure), Calendula officinalis (Pot marigold), Centaurea cyanus (Cornflowers) and Helianthus annuus (Sunflowers).
Those with attractive seed heads, such as Nigella damascena (Love-in-a-mist) and Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) can provide a valuable food source for birds.
Autumn term (September - October)
Many hardy annuals can also be sown early in the autumn term to flower in May the following year, including:
Calendula officinalis (Pot Marigold), Nigella damascene (Love-in-a-mist) and Centaurea cyanus (Cornflowers).
Phacelia tanacetifolia is a green manure which can be sown in September - October. If left to flower rather than being dug in to improve the soil the blue flowers are adored by bees as a source of nectar.
By the end of October many flower seeds will not germinate due to low temperatures or dormancy. A good time to look at seed catalogues and choose favourites for next year!
Edibles with attractive flowers
Pumpkins, marrows and courgettes all have interesting seeds to sow in April - June. They have large yellow male and female flowers which are also edible. If courgettes are left on the plant they will grow as large as marrows, but marrow seeds are also available.
Runner beans – Sow in May / early June. These also have beautiful flowers and this was why the Victorians first grew them rather than for their beans!