As the nights draw in and Autumn tugs us into extra layers, gardeners are taking stock, enjoying the last of the summer blooms and perhaps, most importantly, planning for spring's return.
While the familiar bulbs of Daffodils and Dahlias still delight, there's an abundance of razzle dazzle cultivars ready to shake up your borders, so why not try something different this year? Here's our pick of unusual varieties (old and new) to plant now.
Babington's Leek aka Pink Bubbles © Karen Blakeman
Tree Onion Allium Cepa var viviparum
With its Medusa-like foliage bursting from clusters of bulblets, The Tree Onion is one of the more unusual varieties you'll find at H.W.Hyde & Son. Allium Cepa var viviparumis pleasingly frost and snow-hardy, not fussy about its soil and will reward you with many harvests as each topset can be re-planted. Plant this hardworking perennial for a tasty talking point. Once harvested, you can fry them, add them into soups and stews or pickle them for year-round enjoyment.
Pink Bubbles Allium babingtonii
It might look like clusters of iced gems on lolly sticks but this playful Allium isn't just an attractive addition to your garden. Not only are the shoots edible but the flowers are a hit with bees and butterflies. Plant these beauties from H.W.Hyde & Son at the back of your borders in mid-September to mid-October (the flowers will dazzle while the foliage dies back). Keep your garden full of Pink Bubbles by harvesting the bulblets.
Honey Lily Allium nectaroscordum (siculum)
These pretty lampshade-shaped flowers are sure to brighten up your beds. Hailing from eastern Europe, these elegant blooms emerge from a single stem and in May and burst into a firework display enjoyed by bees, butterflies and other pollinators. A top tip from H.W.Hyde & Son is once the flowering season is over to collect and dry the shuttlecock like seedheads for a winter display.
Narcissus Exotic Mystery_ © H.W.Hyde & Son
Nothing symbolises the cheering arrival of spring than the daffodil but for a truly dazzling display, try these varieties.
Narcissus Exotic Mystery
With their elegant reflexed petals and shifting colour from pale green to sherbert yellow as the plant matures, this beguiling beauty is bound to bring some intrigue to your borders. It also has a subtle fragrance - perfect for bringing the spring indoors.
Narcissus Apple Pie
Not does this Daffodil eschew the traditional yellow we associate with daffs, it also has crinkled petals (like the crust of an apple pie) and while we wouldn't advise eating it, it is very pretty to look at.
Our love affair with Tulips never really ended, it just evolved. These days the showstoppers are feathery, fringed varieties but there are some old flames that still have a place in our gardens.
Fringed Eyelash Tulip Tulipa Eyelash
With large, blousy blooms and a pink ruffled centre this new introduction from Jan Penning is certainly an eye-catching cultivar. Expect blooms in May and consider adding to a vase or bouquet for a visually arresting arrangement.
Horned Tulip Tulipa acuminata
Horned Tulips have been setting gardens ablaze with their striking petals since the 19th century and their charm has yet to fade. Its tapered petals in bold reds and yellows provide a fiery burst to borders come mid spring.
Snakeshead Fritillary Fritillaria meleagris
This UK native prefers moist wetland-conditions, but will put on a pretty display in dappled shade. The pretty checker box pattern never fails to captivate while the nectar it conceals brings the bees in.
Red Beauty Fritillaria imperialis
Striking deep red flowers and a crown of green foliage set this new variety apart from previous orange-hued reds. It will thrive in good quality soil in a sunny or partially shaded position.
Crocus imperati 'de Jager'
This delicate Crocus is flushed violet and cream with an amber tinge and thin purple stripes. Plant in groups for an ususal Crocus carpet which will peep through the soil between February and March.
Crocus Gipsy Girl Crocus chrysanthus
Even the bees have trouble resisting these pretty apricot-hued flowers with their bronze humbug stripes. Don't let its dainty looks deceive you - these are strong plants that will poke through grass with ease.