I don't usually do this kind of thing – summer bedding that is, but with some empty beds in front of my office building I thought I'd give it a go. Specifically I wanted to do something with a Mexican theme; having made a couple of visits to the country over the last few years I wanted to play with some colours I'd got to particularly associate with the place, in particular a very strong carmine pink which you see a lot, in fact my Mexican friend, Dr. Cruz Garcia Albarado, describes it as the national colour. We wouldn't dream of combining it with yellow, but the Mexicans love to.
So, with a backdrop of corn (a sweet corn variety) and amaranthus, two of the crops which fed Aztec and other Mesoamerican civilizations, I splurged out with some outrageously colourful flowers, all bred by the Aztecs (dahlia, tagetes, tithonia, zinnia), or of Mexican origin, nicotiana and bidens. Mostly started off in plugs sown March or April in the polytunnel and planted out May.
A few lessons for if I ever do it again. One is that it is almost impossible to get hold of a tagetes marigold which isn't ridiculously compact, although my friend Blair Priday saves seed every year of a very loose-growing one which would have been better. Same problem with the tithonia, but that might have been my problem choosing the variety. What happens is that compact plants get swamped by the sprawling bidens and nicotiana, quite apart from the irritating parks department look of compact annuals.
Everyone LOVES the zinnias, they don't seem to be a particularly fashionable flower right now, but the colours are so intense, and brings together that real Mexican pink and yellow.
Amaranthus 'Marvel Bronze
Amaranthus 'Autumn Palette'
Bidens ferulaefolia 'Golden Goddess'
Tithonia rotundifolia 'Fiesta del Sol'
Agastache mexicana 'Sangria'
Tagetes 'Legion of Honour'
Zinnia 'Scabious flower mix'
and although you can hardly seem them in this pic: Dahlias Dahlia 'Gallery Art Deco', 'Princesse Gracia', Bishop of Auckland, 'La Recoleta', ‘Ellen Huston’.