colourful fillers

3 Colourful Fillers

Every garden always has gaps – bits of bare soil between plants that can be filled with pretty annuals. So, take yourself off to the nearest garden centre to invest in three colourful fillers, or bedding plants. Even in midwinter, there are flowers pleading to be planted!


Lobelias are perfect as colourful fillers as they are dainty, prolifically flowering annuals that can create a pretty border in the foreground or billowing cushions of colour between other plants. They are mostly available in sky blue and deep purple, but there are also rose pink, lilac, white and a mix of all the colours. Lobelias like morning sun and shade in the afternoon, and moist, compost-enriched soil. To prolong their flowering season, feed regularly with a water-soluble fertiliser.


If you want blooms with long stems (between 65 and 90cm tall) to pick as cut flowers, you should go for ‘Madame Butterfly’ or ‘Rocket’ in mixed or single colours. If you just want to look at the blooms and enjoy them in your flowerbeds, try ‘Snapshot Mix’, which has a dwarf growth habit. Just make sure you plant snapdragons, which can be done nearly all year round! Snapdragons are easy to grow in any light, well-draining soil that has been enriched with compost. They like moist, not overly wet, soil and a warm sunny spot. Don’t crowd them, though, but space them well away from each other, as bad air circulation around the plants can invite fungal diseases like rust.


From now until warmer weather strikes again, you can expect to buy beautiful Nemesia fruticans hybrids with their tiny, snapdragon-like flowers. The ‘Nesia’ series is spectacular, with masses of flowers in striking colours topping healthy, shiny green foliage, and a mounding, upright habit. Plant nemesias in bold patches between other plants to enjoy morning sun and afternoon shade, and take care not to over-water them. These plants can flower for months on end, and when they finally stop flowering you can simply cut them back by a third to bring them back into flower.

The Gardener