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Ask Alfie – February 2014

Alfie Bines Gardens

Alfie Bines GardensQ. Can you suggest some plants with long flowering periods?

A. In answering this question I should firstly point out that although a long flowering period is a real bonus in the garden, fleeting beauty might be considered more eye catching and some of the plants which give the most spectacular displays with the best wow factor have short flowering spells. We can deal with these if the right question comes up!

So, if we take three months plus as a good long flowering season, here are ten plants “in no particular order” which will give good value.

Fuchsias – They are sticks until May, but once they start flowering they’ll continue till November.

Lavenders – They will perform all summer and even if they fade you can get another flush out of them if you dead head.

Hebe “Autumn Glory” – despite its name it flowers way beyond one season. (As do many other hebes)

Erysimum “Bowles Mauve” – A purple perennial wallflower. This genuinely does its thing from Spring to Autumn, but tends to burn itself out after three or four years.

Armeria maritima – “Thrift”  – A great little space filler with grassy foliage and pink button flowers.

Salvia nemerosa “Caradonna” – Blue blooms from June to November  and great for bees.

Centranthus rubra (Red Valerian) – self seeding, red perennial all summer long.

Repeat flowering roses – Roses are perhaps unfashionable at the moment but choose the right variety and you’ll have colour all summer. (eg “Magic Carpet”)

Verbena bonariensis – A garden designers favourite, very tall, with mauve flowers

Viburnum tinus – “Laurustinus”  I had to include this to illustrate my first point. This plant never stops flowering, but it is at the extreme end of dull so you hardly notice it!


Q. For security reasons we have been advised to cut our 9ft laurel hedge down to 4 or 5ft. Will it survive such a harsh cut back?

A. In my experience Laurel will survive a hard prune, but does take quite a while to regenerate giving a slightly nervy first two or three months. However in the long run it should be fine. Feed after pruning.

This is a good question in terms of reducing hedging and it is worth mentioning that established Privet, Pyracantha, Hawthorn, Yew and Aucuba will normally take any amount of brutality.

However Box, Ceanothus, Pittosporum and many conifers will suffer irrecoverable shock if pruned too severely.


There are always lots of ifs and buts in gardening answers so if you require further details or disagree with any points, do get back in touch.

If you have something to ask them please email [email protected] and mark your subject “Ask Alfie”.


Alfie Bines
About Alfie Bines (24 Articles)
I have been tending the gardens of North London for longer than I care to remember accumulating a huge amount of horticultural knowledge along the way.