Which are your favourite flowers?

Which are Your Favourite Flowers?

Inspired by Shelley Levis, the gardenista of the Sow and Dipity blog, and having read her list of favourite flowers http://www.sowanddipity.com/favorite-flowers/  I thought, simple, a list, it will take two minutes.  I could, of course, have been practical and listed the good do-ers that return reliably year upon year but as I made my list – full of crossings out and re-writes – it soon became apparent that it was much harder than I first thought. Two key factors influenced almost every choice of flower: scent and association with people and places in my past. Does this tarnish my list with scentimentality and emotion? Well, yes – but sow be it.

My dirty dozen follows … but it would be great to see all of your choices – five, ten, a dozen or a baker’s dozen, it’s up to you, but send ‘em in!

Fairy SlipperCalypso bulbosa is a small orchid that grows in the Lodgepole pine forests of the Rockies, where as a child I saw them caught in a beam of dappled sunlight. An inherent quality of their beauty is that they are so ephemeral, and that they grow only where they choose.

Calypso bulbosa

Photo from the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research. – See more at: http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/potd/photographs-of-botany-photo-of-the-day#sthash.72RsBy4v.dpuf

For some more photos, see Al Schneider’s photos at http://www.swcoloradowildflowers.com/Pink%20Enlarged%20Photo%20Pages/calypso%20bulbosa.htm

Frangipani – a small, tropical evergreen tree with very fragrant flowers, a similar plant to Oleander which many of you may grow as patio or conservatory plant. The fragrance is unforgettable.


Photo from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Frangipani_flowers.jpg

SnowdropsGalanthus nivalis is a dainty white flower that blooms without fail at the coldest and wettest time of year. It makes effortless snow white carpets, and then vanishes until the next New Year. Again, it is the ‘when’ of this flower that makes it a favourite, and thankfully it grows easily here in the Fraser Valley. You can gently lift a clump, drop it into a pretty container and bring it inside for a few days to enjoy the honey scent and thoughts of spring. When the flowers are done, use the opportunity to spread your clump of snowdrops by dividing it up and planting each bulb a hand’s width apart to create a carpet of white for the following spring.


Daphne – the fragrance of daphne is warm and spicy and embedded in my memories of treks through Nepalese forest and views of brilliant snow white peaks – warm and cold, together in one recollection. We used to pick sprigs and tuck it in our hair. That plant was Nepalese paper bush or Daphne bholua, but there are many others. Perhaps the most sweetly scented of Daphnes, ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is a well-known bholua cultivar raised by Alan Postill at Hilliers Nursery, Hampshire, England, and named after his wife. Daphnes grow well in the Pacific North-West and there is plenty of choice. The sweet-scented Daphne odora is essential to our winter gardens and easy to propagate.

Daphne bholua

Photo from  http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens/Hyde-Hall/About-HydeHall/Plant-of-the-month/January/Daphne-bholua–Jacqueline-Postill- See http://jury.co.nz/tag/himalayan-daphne/ for more about Daphnes

Lily of the Valley – Convallaria majalis is another endearingly sweet-scented spring flower that grows so well here in Vancouver that it can become a bit of a thug. Nonetheless, it is a useful groundcover under deciduous trees and shrubs. Tucked away in a back corner of your garden, it can be left to live and let live, and you can enjoy its flowers each spring.

Lily of the Valley

This beautiful photo was taken by Alison (Dulaney) of Hearts of Gold Blog – see http://heartofgoldandluxury.blogspot.ca/2013/06/petal-by-petal-lily-of-valley.html

See forcing Lily of the Valley pips for Christmas http://www.growingwithplants.com/2012/12/the-forgotten-christmas-flower-lily-of.html and http://www.growingwithplants.com/2007/12/forcing-lily-of-valley-pips.html

Hellebores – we all know that we have the ideal place to grow lovely hellebores, and we are fortunate to have nurseries like Phoenix Perennials which holds ‘The Hellebore Hurrah’, this year starting on the 14th February. My favourite white is ‘Josef Lemper’, a snowy Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) with strong stems and large flowers. For the Lenten Rose, Helleborus x hybridus, we are spoiled for choice. Marietta O’Byrne’s new hellebores out of Oregon, such as her Winter Jewel series, are stunning. ‘Sparkling Diamonds’, ‘Amethyst Gem’ and ‘Berry Swirl’ are sumptuous doubles (see http://www.terranovanurseries.com/gardeners/helleboruswinterjewelseries-c-82_27_168.html ). The very latest in hellebores is one named ‘Anna’s Red’ , a “breakthrough hellebore …(with) bold red flowers held on top of leathery, boldly-mottled foliage that emerges first flushed with pink then fading to silver and mint green.” See http://www.phoenixperennials.com/nursery/plant.php?plantID=4942

Primroses – love ‘em all! I fell for Gold-Laced Polyanthus at Selborne in Hampshire, UK, the home of the world famous 18th century naturalist, Gilbert White. At that time, I heard the seed came from ‘Barnhaven Primroses’, started by Florence Bellis in the 1930s in Oregon, though by the time I discovered Barnhaven, the company had moved to the north of England, and then on to Brittany in 1990. See http://www.barnhaven.com/ for a full history. Florence was famed for her Barnhaven Cowichan primroses. This made the Cowichan name famous in horticultural circles long before the sweater achieved Olympic fame.

Gold-Laced Primula

Photo from the Barnhaven website www.barnhaven.com

What is worth noting is that many, many of the primulas you buy at local garden centres have the distinct Barnhaven look. It is unmistakeable.

FoxglovesDigitalis purpurea ‘Alba’ and ‘Saltwood Summer’ both produce tall white spires of foxgloves and are favourites of mine.  To maintain the white colour, for years I  pulled out every seedling with even a hint of pink. Launched at the millennium, ‘Saltwood Summer’ was the first orchid foxglove with the split calyces.Foxglove 'Saltwood Summer'

Jayne Palmer’s lovely photo of Saltwood Summer from her blog http://mysecretcafe.blogspot.ca/2011_06_01_archive.html

Tree Peonies – these extravagant, generous blooms are just so sumptuous that even the anticipation is full of joy. When the fat round buds the size of golf balls, split open and the colour starts to show, it is a day worthy of celebration. Tree Peony

Pelargoniums – specifically Swiss Balcony ivy-leaf geraniums, also called Balcon Geraniums or Balcony Geraniums; varieties such as Decora Red, Decora Pink and Decora Lilac. These delicate single flowers are wonderful en masse. They drop their old flowers – hence ‘self-cleaning’, which for hard-to-reach window boxes and hanging baskets is a great characteristic. Also, when hanging baskets accidently dry out, these geraniums  recover swiftly, unlike more delicate souls such as lobelia, petunias and bacopa.Swiss Balcony Pelargonium

Photo from Kaw Valley greenhouses owned by the Edmund family http://www.kawvalleygreenhouses.com/plants/Detail/2144

Rosa alba ‘Celeste’ (syn. ‘Celestial’) – the Celestial or Celeste rose is a robust old shrub rose with lovely glaucous foliage, that has flowered once a year around the world with joyous abandon since 1739. Highly scented, they are reputed to have been Gertrude Jekyll’s favourite rose.Rose Celestial

This lovely photo of the old rose ‘Celeste’ comes from the Florum website below http://www.florum.fr/rosa-celeste/73056/rose-rose-celeste-rosier-rosier-celeste-zp.html   I wish I was able to credit the actual photographer but I couldn’t find a name – whoever you are, thank you.

Magnolia – years ago on a mountain trail, I saw a far distant tree that looked as if it were covered with white doves. It was love at first sight. Unbeknownst to me, it was a magnolia, Magnolia campbellii. I went on to grow a Magnolia kobus, which took many years before it flowered, growing in difficult clay soil in the South of England. Luckily for us, magnolias find the North Shore a perfect home, and we can easily grow a wide selection.Magnolia campbellii tree

Photo from http://www.greenkiwi.co.nz/footprints/frames/rr.htm

Magnolia campbelliiMagnolia campbellii alba ‘Strybing White’ Photo by Egbert Talsma Location: Lanhydrock, 2009, Rhododendron, Camellia & Magnolia Group of the RHS UK

Photo from http://www.rhodogroup-rhs.org/Dictionary/Magnolia/M.campbellii_StrybingWhite.htm

Let’s see your lists …



Which are your favourite flowers? — 7 Comments

  1. One of my favorite plants are pelargoniums, they bloom all summer, are nearly disease free and require little care Cuttings are easy to take so you can get a lot of little plants from the old plant. I love the tropicals but they take a lot of care to overwinter well.Roses are also a favorite but now that I am competing with the deer I don’t get many flowers.

  2. Thank you for the mention! Yes, I kept my list VERY simple. I decided that I wanted to share ones that perform with ease for folks that would search the net looking for flowers even a brown thumb could grow.
    I started the post with the opposite idea in mind, alternatives to common landscape plants… but in the end, I chose a few performers that are not princess’s in the garden, just reliably beautiful year in and year out 😉
    I love all your choices, I’ve used them in my garden design days and have several in my own garden now too!

    • Hi Shelley, thank you for your comment. Here at Deep Cove Garden Club we love to read your blog. We have members who quilt as well so your sewing projects appeal to everyone too 🙂
      Cheers, Sally

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