Aconitum wilsonii

Monkshood ■ Wolf's Bane Helmet Flower (UK)

Aconite Monkshood (USAJ

This erect hardy herbaceous plant has deeply divided dark green leaves and 5cm (2in) high amethyst' blue hooded flowers during iate summer and into early autumn. Several varieties are available, ■ncluding Keimscott Variety' (favender-blue) and 'Barker's Variety' (deep blue). Height: 1-2-1 8m (4-6tt) Spread; 45 60cm (1>>-2ft) Cultivation: Deep, fertile, moisture-retentive soil in slight shade suits it best Do not allow the soil to dry out.

and cut the plants down to soil-level during autumn.

Propagation: II is easily increased by lifting and dividing established clumps in spring or autumn. Seeds can be sown in boxes ol loam-based compost in spring and placed in a cold frame but this method takes a couple of years to produce flowering-sized plants that will create a worthwhile, dominant display.

Above: Aconitum wilsonii

A stately and erect herbaceous perennial, displaying amethyst-blue hooded flowers during late summer and into autumn It gets one of its common names, Wolfs Bane, from its poisonous roots

Aconitum napellus is another Monkshood, with deep-blue flowers during m;d-summer. It blends well with a bsckclotn of the Venetian Sumach or Smoke Tree. Cotinus coggygria Foliis Purpureis'

Agapanthus blends well with yellow-flowered and silver-foliaged plants For silver foliage choose Stachys lanata, while A0jiliea filipendula Coronation Gold' with its flat flower heads provides an ampSe splash of yellow1.

Ageratum houstonianum

(Ageratum mexicanum) A hail-hardy annual with mid-green, hairy heart-shaped leaves and 7 5-10cm (3-4in) wide clusters of powdery bluish-mauve flowers from early (o late summer Several superb forms are grown, including Blue Cap and Blue Danube Height: 13-30cm [5-12in] Spread: 20-30cm (8-12in) Cultivation: Moisture-retentive son is best, and a position in full sun or i iartial shade Do no! set the plants in heavy shade. Removing the dead flower heads helps to extend the flowering season, and this is especially important where the plants are being grown in containers on a patio Propagation: During late winter and early spring, sow seeds thinly 3mm (¡¿¡in} deep >n pots of loam-based seed compost kept at 10°C (50°F) When the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them off into boxes and harden them of) in a cold frame Plant them out when all risk of Irosl has passed

Below Ageratum houstonianum Adriatic Blue

A well-known hall-hardy annual for summer-heckling schemes It is especially eye-catching as a border edging and looks good alongside gravel paths

Ageratum houstonianum can be used in many bedding combinations. Try an edging ot ageratum with a carpeting ol orange or salmon antirrhinums and dot plants of Abutilon striatum [A. thompsonii),

Alkanet Italian Bugloss [UK and USA]

Italian Stanwort (UK) Italian Aster (USA]

Above Anchusa azurea

The beautiful blue flowers appear during mid-summer, creating a strong colour impact The plants need support from twiggy sticks inserted at an early stage so that they nan grow up through them.

Anchusa azurea

Alkanet Italian Bugloss [UK and USA]

A brightly coloured hardy herbaceous perennial with lance-shaped mid-green leaves rough and hairy stems, and large bright blue flowers similar to forget-me-nots displayed in large heads during mid-summer. There are several superb varieties, including Morning Glory' (bright blue), 'Opal [soft blue), 'Royal Blue' [rich royal blue) and Loddon Royalist1 [gentian-blue). Height: 90cm-1 '5m (3-5ft) Spread: 45-60cm [1J£-2ftj Cultivation: Deep, fertile, well-drained soil in a sunny position is best. Anchusas need support from twiggy sticks' in autumn cut down the stems to soil-level Propagation: It is easily increased from root-cuttings. These are best taken in winter, cutting the roots into 5cm (2in) long pieces. At the stem end of each cutting make a fiat cut at right-angles to the stem, while at the root end form a slanting cut. This helps to sort out the cuttings if they become mixed up Insert them flat end upwards in pots or boxes of loam-based compost, and put them in a cold frame

Aster amellus

Italian Stanwort (UK) Italian Aster (USA]

This well-known herbaceous □erennialfrom Italy displays rough surfaced grey-green leaves and 5-6-5cm (2-2/yn' wide daisy-like flowers with goldert-yellow centres during late summer and into autumn. Several superb forms are available, including King George' [soft blue-violet), 'Nocturne [lavender-pink], 'Sonia' (large and pink] and Violet Queen' (compact and dwarf) Height: 45-60cm riV,-2ftJ Spread: 38-45crn (15-18in) Cultivation: Well-drained but moisture-retentive soil and a sunny position suit it best It dislikes excessive water during autumn and winter. In late autumn, cut down the stems to soil-level Propagation: Dividing established clumps in spring is the easiest method of increasing this plant. Alternatively, take basal cuttings.

Below Aster amellus King George

A large-flowered aster, this variety has remained popular since it was firstbredin 1914 It displays soft blue-violet flowers with dramatically contrasting golden-yellow centres

Anchusa azurea :ooks spectacular when grown against a backciotn of yellow foliage, such as that of the Golden Privet {Ligustrum ovatifolium Aureum'). Lady's Mantle [Alchemilla mollis) is small enough to be set around the front of the anchusa.

Asters are amo^g the brightest flowering plants in our gardens, and suit bold plantings in a herbaceous or mixed border. A few asters are small enough to be planted in a rock garden setting, such as Aster alpinus which is only 15cm [6in] tall

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Above Aster amellus Nocturne

This is an especially good form thai has a compact and bushy habit with semi-doable lavender-pink flowers Free-draining sal is essential tor this late summer and autumn-flowenng plant to produce a good display Unfortunately, in areas of high rainfall the flowers tend to become sodden with water and to be weighed down. This can be prevented by covering the fiower-heads with a tent of plastic sheeting

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