Each of us has a flower we are particularly fond of growing, so we thought that this week we would show you the Kings Seeds staff's pick for bedding flowers....
Gerard chose Poppy California Jelly Beans as his favourite.
He grew a bed of these pretty poppies in his home garden a couple of years ago and they completely stole the show.
These gorgeous poppies with their jewel-coloured crepe-paper petals are just lovely!
Liz chose Tithonia Goldfinger as her favourite bedding flower.
Liz has a beautiful mature garden with large trees and likes this plant because it is bright and cheerful, "very very very tolerant of dry conditions" and because it breaks up her very green garden with some bold colour. If deadheaded regularly, this plants just flowers and flowers and flowers. Liz's adult son even admitted to appreciating them: "Mum, you have those orange things in those tubs every Christmas, don't you?" Well, we think that might be as close as it gets to flower appreciation from a big boy!
Deb's choice is Night Scented Stock. She likes it because it puts on a good show and because of the lovely smell....just as its name suggests, the scent is just lovely as night falls.
Jen chose Dianthus Clove Pinks. She loves the fragrance and the soft pink colour. It produces masses of flowers and is very easy to grow.
Jen also likes it because it stays really healthy and doesn't seem to get any diseases.
Jen is also fond of this flower because it is an old-fashioned flower
Camilla likes to have some colour in pots around her deck and often has violas, with their little cheerful faces, for some instant colour. Another of Camilla's favourites is salvia, which provides both a splash of colour, and some height in the garden.
Sharon enjoys having Viscaria. She enjoys growing this plant because it is very cute as a picked flower and has a charming cottage look when included in a posy displayed in an old glass bottle.
Jude's choice is Stock Spring Sparkle. She chose it because is makes a good ground cover and has very dainty flowers with pretty colours.
She had a nice surprise this year to see that they had re-seeded at her front gate - they are a lovely, early splash of colour and flower for ages.
My own favourite is the simple Violet Queen Charlotte. I have a patch of these pretty flowers outside the kitchen window. This year there have been so many flowers that I have been able to have big bunches of violets in the house, filling the rooms with the most wonderful smell. The violets have spread a little into other parts of the garden too, which was a nice surprise. I've waxed lyrical about these pretty, nostalgic little flowers before in another blog post, but I've discovered even more things to do with violets since then, so they deserve another mention!
Apparently, there is the same amount of Vitamin C in just two violet leaves as there is in an orange, so the leaves are being added to our green smoothies each morning. You can also use violet leaves as a salad green or dry them and use the dried leaves to make a tea.
Last week I made some violet vinegar - like raspberry vinegar, it makes a really gorgeous ingredient in salad dressing.
If you want to have a go at making it, just pop as many violet blossoms as you can spare into a glass jar and cover with vinegar. You can use white vinegar, white wine vinegar or cider vinegar. Leave to steep for a week, then strain out the flowers. You can either store it like this, or if you are intending to use it as a salad dressing ingredient, which is what I am planning to do, you can sweeten it: Measure your liquid and add 50g sugar for every 100 ml of liquid. Heat to dissolve the sugar and bottle into a sterile jar while hot. The colour is just spectacular! Mix with a little olive oil for a fantastic salad dressing.
So not only can you enjoy this little flower in the garden, you can bring it into the house to enjoy, and also use it to make useful things in the kitchen ,,,,no wonder it's my favourite. And it smells so sweet and it's purple too - what more could you ask for?
We'd love to hear about your favourite bedding flowers.....what do you love to grow in your garden??