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

Delphiniums are hardy perennials and very easy to grow. The young shoots may need protection from slugs and staking the plants before they start flowering is essential as they get incredibly heavy and easily snap off in the wind. This vivid blue delphinium has no trouble attracting the bees in my garden!

Blue Delphinium Flower

I went to photograph this beautiful cornflower and when I got close noticed it had an occupant! It was a type of shield bug I think – red on the outside with a gold triangle in the middle.

Shield Bug in Centaurea cyanus

I didn’t get round to planting these bulbs until after Christmas, so they are only just beginning to flower. This is a delicate, miniature iris, small, but beautifully formed with velvety petals and striking markings.

Iris reticulata

This Ceanothus ‘Yankee Point’ is in full bloom at the moment and it is positively hums all day long with bees visiting the flowers!

Ceanothus 'Yankee Point'

I would certainly recommend this shrub, commonly known as a Californian Lilac, if you are looking for a relatively quick growing evergreen shrub that is easy to look after. It likes a sunny, sheltered spot.

This Ceanothus covers an ugly, south-facing wall and every Spring is a mass of colour. It is self-supporting so doesn’t need wires. After flowering I prune it back to stop it getting top heavy, and restricting its width. It was labelled as growing to five feet in height, and eight feet wide, but it has reached around 15 feet high and wide and I keep it to this size by pruning.