Lavatera trimestris

This is one of the best hardy annuals for the sunny garden, filling in the gap when the peonies and early perennials are over and the late perennials are not yet in their prime. A bushy plant up to 3 feet (90 cm) high, it is covered with trumpet flowers for many weeks from midsummer. One of the best varieties is ‘Loveliness’, with satiny rose-pink flowers; ‘Silver Cup’ is pink with a silver gleam; ‘Mont Blanc’, a shorter plant with pure white flowers, is perhaps the best of all. The pink ones need careful placing.

They look well among peony foliage with shrub roses in the background, and there might be a group of purple-leaved plants in front, such as Sedum maximum ‘Atro-purpureum’, or the silver-leaved Stochys olympica. Alternatively, sow them among evergreen shrubs such as Viburnum x burkwoodii to cheer them up after they have flowered.

The seeds are best sown in spring where they are to flower, and they are nice large seeds, so you can see what you are doing. Any garden soil suits them. Thin them when the seedlings are large enough, and water if necessary. Deadhead the plants from time to time if you have the patience, but leave a few seedheads to sow themselves for an early crop next year.

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