The nicotianas are a riot of colour at the moment and as evening draws near, the smell they emit is divine!

I grew these from seed – actually they were in a packet labelled busy lizzie, but I could tell they weren’t! I have way more than I need, but they have made such an impact on the garden.


Busy Lizzie flowers are easy to grow plants for your summer pots and bedding. At the end of the summer, you can collect the seed heads and you will have a supply of seeds for the following year.

When the seed pods are ripe you can just gently touch the seed capsule and they explode, catapulting the seeds out! This is a macro shot of the inside of the popped capsule.

Busy Lizzie seed pod

This is a pretty little annual flower which is very easy to grow from seed and is ideal for hanging baskets or shady places. Each flower has five petals, each one with a deep blue spot at the tip – hence the name.  As you can see from this picture the bees love the flowers!

Bumble bee on Nemophila maculata Five Spot

Nigella is a popular cottage garden plant, which self-seeds prolifically. They are usually blue, white or pink, but cross-pollination will give you some interesting combinations. With its airy foliage surrounding the flower, you can see why this flower gets the name ‘Love in a Mist’. Don’t dead-head the flowers when they have finished flowering, as the seed heads are beautiful in their own way, plus you will get lots more plants for free next year!

Nigella flower

Once you plant Briza media in your garden, you will always have it, because it does seed itself about! I don’t mind though, it’s easy to identify the seedlings and pull up any you don’t require. I love how Quaking grass dances in the slightest breeze – it does make it tricky to photograph though! This photo shows the colour of the young grass, it turns a beautiful straw colour later on. I always cut some of the young grass to dry and use in flower arrangements. To dry, just collect the stems, tie loosely together and hang upside down until dry.

Briza media or Quaking grass

Briza media is a gorgeous edition to any cottage garden border bringing movement and changing colour throughout the growing season and is pest free.

If you are looking for plants to attract bees, then the Honeywort is a must-have flower for the garden. The sumptuous purple of Cerinthe Major makes it look so exotic and delicate, but it really is as tough as old boots. You can buy these plants in the garden centre where they will cost you a small fortune, but they are really easy to raise from seed. They happily reproduce themselves in the garden and the self-sown plants are much stronger than the ones sown in pots and mollycoddled.