I first came across this variegated tree mallow, Lavatera arborea ‘Variegata’, whilst browsing a seed catalogue in 1999 and fell in love with the description (there were no pictures or website to look at). I ordered a packet, sowed the seeds and was impressed at the ease and speed at which it grew.
This Giant Scotch Thistle stands majestically in the border at around nine feet tall and has just started to flower, which the bees will go made for! It is a biennial flower which will self seed readily. When I see the seedlings pop up I move them to where I want them to flower, usually at the back of a border where they are not going to attack passers-by (the leaves are very prickly!)
I grow Campanula medium, or Canterbury Bells, from seed and find they are best treated as a biennial flower, although sometimes they can be a short-lived perennial. The colours range from white, through pale pink to purple. They are easy to grow from seed and in their second year the plants will reach 2-3 feet in height, with masses of flowers on each steam, which the bees absolutely adore. Dead-heading may produce a second flush of flowers, but not as profuse as the initial flowering.
When this flower arrived in my garden a few years ago I thought it was just another weed. I found out that the root can be eaten, although I have never tried it – I just enjoy the flowers! Also known as Oyster plant, it is a prolific self-seeder so if you don’t want too many of these plants, remove the dead flower heads before they seed everywhere!