One of my favourite annuals that I grew this year was Cleome spinosa ‘Helen Cambpbell’ (above). Easy to grow from seed and flowering from July until October, I ‘m always surprised that Cleome is not more widely grown. With its spidery flowers similar in size and shape to an Agapanthus, these stunning annuals, growing to about 3ft high, are a wonderful addition to any summer flowering border.
A couple of lessons that I’ve learned this year, is that these plants really do need full sun to grow to their best potential and if you pinch out the main stem, you will not get just one flower, but 12-15 gorgeous flower heads sprouting from side shoots, and a fairly bushy plant to boot.
The first time I saw this plant was at the Chaumont Garden Festival in the Loire in France a few years ago. Back in France this summer again, I had to bring the car to an abrupt halt when I espied this planting outside a Vicarage in Normandy.
Not only white, but pink Cleome also graced this bed, along with generous helpings of Verbena bonariensis. I shall definitely be growing both colours next year. Cleome(spinosa) seeds are available from Chiltern Seeds (in 4 colours, plus 4 other lesser known Cleome varieties) and from Sarah Raven in a selection of pinks and whites too.