First Year Flowering Perennials: All-summer achilleas

December 1st, 2017 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Achillea 'Summer Berries'

I first raised seedlings of Achillea ‘Summer Pastels’ way back in 1990, twenty seven years ago, when it first came on the scene. I’d being trying some new achilleas from Germany that were propagated by division or cuttings and had been very impressed so I was interested to try these new achilleas from seed.

‘Summer Pastels’ proved really excellent, with more colours and much more economical. But in recent years it’s been supplanted by a sister variety, ‘Summer Berries’ (above), in richer shades than the pale ‘Summer Pastels’ mix.

This summer on the Mr Fothergill’s trial ground I appreciated for the first time the depth of colour in ‘Summer Berries’: burgundy, deep reds (some with a white or yellow eye), deep golden shades, brick orange, rich raspberry pink with a few paler pinks and lemony shades for a little extra spark. One colour, the deep cherry red ‘Cassis’ is available separately.

Sown in March, they’ll flower after four months, continue into the autumn (dead heading is a big help) and are guaranteed to sail happily through the winter and begin flowering earlier, late May perhaps, the following year.

These are lovely plants for a sunny perennial border and make clumps quickly and they’re very pretty when cut for the house. But don’t cut too soon, or the flower heads will droop: wait until almost all the florets are open and you can see a little pollen in the centre of each one. It also helps to place the stems in warm water immediately they’re cut and to strip off lower leaves and side shoots.

And, while you’re about it, why not try the double white buttons of ‘Double Diamond’?

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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