Young gardening superstar Arthur Parkinson says that if he hadn’t taken up gardening, he would have been a bird keeper; birds and wildlife are his biggest inspiration for colour. When planning combinations, Arthur isn’t shy in his plant choice – “I know what colours I like and the plants I like and I’ve always been like that.” Drawn to deep sorbet tones and wary of pastel and white, Arthur’s style is bold.
Here is his pick of the 9 best flowers to grow, which are great for pots and containers, and for cutting for posies, bouquets and arrangements.
Arthur Parkinson’s favourite flowers
Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’
A favourite for good reason: it flowers for a long period with semi-double, brilliant-red petals and egg yolk-orange centres. The foliage is a deep kelp green, verging on black. 1m. AGM*. RHS H3, USDA 7a-11†.
Thunbergia ‘Sunset Shades’
These exotic climbers with peach and nectarine petals and deep chocolate-brown middles, will be present from July into November and make surprisingly good cut flowers. Plant out seedlings in June. 40cm.
Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Double Click Cranberries’
This cosmos looks at its most lavish when freshly opened. While Arthur generally avoids double flowers, because they are of little use to bees, he finds that semi-doubles give an extra thrill, while still being pollinator-friendly. 30cm.
Dahlia ‘Totally Tangerine’
A nectar-rich anemone dahlia. Arthur feeds the dahlias in the containers fortnightly over the summer with soaked, organic, chicken manure pellets and waters almost daily. 90cm.
This sun worshipper is perfect for a pot by the door, and requires no staking. Plush, velvet-pink flowers surround a nectar-filled central heart. 70cm.
With its profuse, deep-purple flowers, this bushy, upright perennial has become deservedly popular.
1.2m. AGM. RHS H3, USDA 8a-10b.
Cosmos bipinnatus ’Rubenza’
A half-hardy annual with claret-silk petals and a golden centre, and divided ferny foliage. This is my favourite cut flower. 75cm. AGM. RHS H3.
Alcea ‘Blackcurrant Whirl’
Soft, ruffled flower heads of blackcurrant-ripple ice cream hues. They are unaffected by rust in my garden and grow particularly tall in the courtyard where they are popular with the bees. 2.4m. USDA 3a-9a.
Dahlia ‘Waltzing Mathilda’
This exotically striking dahlia has dark-green foliage and slightly twisted, pink, peach and tangerine petals, which remind me of the tail feathers of the Raggiana bird of paradise. 70cm. AGM. RHS H3.