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Ugly flowers: beastly begonias & rotten roses

Begonia flowers

Have you ever looked at a regimented row of marigolds and been filled with rage? Do begonias make your blood boil? Flowers aren’t always beautiful, according to some.

So Monty Don has called begonias ‘repulsively ugly’ and I think a lot of us know why.

Summer is the season of bedding-plants. Garish confections of bright red, orange and sherbet yellow dangle from suburban hanging baskets, are stuffed into plastic patio pots and of course form the centrepiece of many municipal flower beds, in the shape of commemorative Union Jacks, crowns and dates. If I see another flower bed full of regimented pelargoniums, lobelia and begonias I might just scream.

But let’s be honest. Begonias aren’t the only blowsy, frilly, frumpy flowers that get us riled up. I asked my colleagues about the flowers they disliked and the list was never-ending.

Flower fury

Flowers that are ‘doubles’ topped the list – especially the flowers so overbred they look like shower-puffs and anything with variegated foliage that makes the plant look like it has some kind of fatal disease. Busy lizzies, petunias and even the relatively inoffensive nasturtiums came in for a pasting and hostas are only fit for feeding slugs apparently! And roses spend half the year looking like twigs.

Who knew that something as cheerful as a flower could generate such ardent dislike?

Benefits of bedding plants

Bedding plants are a quick and easy way to plonk a bit of summer colour into your garden. Buy them cheap from the garden centre and they flower and flower and then you can toss them into the green bin in autumn without any concern. And honestly, I don’t mind them that much. At least they’re cheerful. But I like variegated tulips, so what do I know?

Are you happy to brighten up your garden with summer bedding plants or do perfect lines of marigolds set your teeth on edge? Are your neighbours kniphofia a seventies relic or is your own porch graced with giant begonias?

Which flowers are the ugliest?

No flowers are ugly (84%, 182 Votes)

Begonias (10%, 21 Votes)

Busy lizzies (3%, 6 Votes)

Other – tell us in the comments below (2%, 4 Votes)

Petunias (1%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 216

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Comments
Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

If you don’t like some flowers then don’t grow them! The natural colour (apart from dyed cut flowers) of foliage and flower are a real gift from nature and we should not despise it. What is more, looking after them in your garden and wandering around to look at the ever-changing scene is a very pleasant occupation – providing you can live with the damage from the weather and natures beasts, also something we should learn to appreciate. Peonies, double and single, roses, pelargoniums, dahlias (regarded as garish and blousy by some but just look at their huge variety of size, shape, colour and length of flowering season), chrysanthemums, snapdragons, delphiniums……….the list is endless. I’d rather look round my garden, and others, than some mindless daub in the Tate Modern.

“Buy them cheap from the garden centre” – what nonsense. You buy them too early and Jack frost gets them so you go back for more, and spend £££££ on plants you could grow from seed for far far less, and for a lot more fun. Thompson and Morgan had a seed offer early this year – all packets £1. For £10 you could fill your own and probably your family’s and neighbour’s gardens with bedding plants if that’s what you like.

Adelaide, are you sure you are working for the right magazine 🙂 🙂

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

I hate bedding plants –sorry about that , I only grow perennial.s and even there no fancy millionth,s hybrid that needs greenhouse heat and has no resistance to insects ,infection and worst of all NO SMELL ! . My garden is “natural ” wild honeysuckle, vines , sea air trees and shrubs that have stood the test of time over centuries. I have watched all those “specialist ” plants being attacked by every insect going and catch every plant disease , not so wild roses and every natural (non-man made ) plant in my garden . While I tried them out (the new breed ) my garden was full of greenfly plant eating beetles etc . Now zero greenfly or nasty plant eating insects and —NO disease .

Member
G Becque says:
22 June 2016

I love most flowers but I hate the sight of marigolds and nasturtiums don’t do much for me either. At the moment I am planting many different heuchera. The flowers aren’t up to much but the different coloured leaves look stunning. I mainly grow perennials in my large back garden but I plant bedding geraniums in the front. They give such a lovely show right up until the frosts.

Profile photo of ChristineAmey
Member

I love begonias,the colours are bright and they last for weeks,nasturtiums are another brightly coloured flower,as are marigolds. When these are in full bloom in pots or the garden even on a dull day,the brightness lifts your spirits.
The world would be a very drab place without these beautiful plants,along with many others.

Member
Mandy Turner says:
23 June 2016

Stocks. Not that they are ugly but they stink. They smell exactly like urine.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

We are fascinated by the ever-changing kaleidoscope of colours that populates our garden day by day. We even have a couple of begonias but simpler flowers are preferred. The lupins and foxgloves rule supreme at present but the red hot pokers (kniphofia) have not done so well this year. We don’t have bedding plants [because there isn’t room for them] but I echo Malcolm’s comments. I think they look alright so long as they are not planted in regimented rows municipal fashion. A neighbour has planted about fifty salvias in unbroken lines and I can understand their appeal if you like the Eastbourne seafront look. At least their property has more kerb appeal than many people’s frontages.

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
Member

Which salvias? It is a very large family of plants so I was kind of interested – particularly as salvias can be annuals, biennials, perennials, and shrubs. Many people ahve sage bushes for cooking and that is a salvia.

One of the great families like penstemons and geraniums [not pelargoniums which used to be called geraniums] that have different leaves and habits and can flower for years.

Freely self-seeding plants like poppies [traditional, Icelandic and Californian] nigella , and spreading sedums can provide the unexpected and easy drifts of colour.

Buy bedding plants!! Never.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I was referring to the regular red municipal salvias, Diesel, that get put in and thrown away in robotic fashion. I agree with all your comments.

Profile photo of Sophie Gilbert
Member

I’m with you, John Ward. What gets me is regimented, robotic, colour-by-number council gardening. Even regular red municipal salvias look good when planted imaginatively. Any plant does.

Member
Anne Rad says:
23 June 2016

Trailing begonias in the hanging baskets are lovely! And as for roses, I love the Zephrin Druin (not exactly sure of the spelling) but they are a climbing rose, first to flower and last to stop, no thorns and the scent is beautiful!!!