ON work days in the garden I tend to graze often and never eat heavily. I start each morning with two slices of toast one with marmite on the other with lime marmalade, a combination that works for me.

I’m trying out a new combination in the garden this season, sowing seeds of Calendula ‘"Lemon Gem" and Nicotiana "Sensation Mix". It’s a first for me, mixing a muted yellow with the pastel shades of "Sensation Mix", but what harm can come of it?

Both plants grow to about 900mm and both are annuals enjoying full sun and a dry location, exactly where they are going in the garden. I will mass plant them so there is a continuous full bed that will smother any weeds that attempt to compete.

I’ll plant each variety in random threes, fives or sevens with no same number alongside each other. I want the appearance to be naturalistic, looking as if it happened by accident.

Some great combinations can be found in nature: one of the best for me is under planting beech or sycamore trees with bluebells. The plant and the trees have mutually beneficial relationship. The bluebells flower before the leaves emerge on the trees and make the woodland canopy of shade.

After the leaves come out they provide sufficient dappled light and leaf mould for the bulbs to regenerate for next season together with the summer shade they need to stop the bulbs drying out.

Not all combinations need to be symbiotic. Helen, our head gardener, has devised two planting schemes that each provides a palate of colours that work well together either as a whole or by using variable numbers and selections of them.

In developing these two palates, we find it useful to cut out and storyboard them. The photographs of Helen’s work give you a good impression. When trying out a new combination of plants there needs to be some basics. Are they to flower at the same time? do they like the same conditions? how available are they?

Both Helen’s plants and my limited palate have been grown from seed as seed catalogues give you a far greater variety than buying only those plants available from the garden centre or superstore and April is your last month to sow seed ready for the season. Some seed you can sow directly into the ground but you will have more planting out options available to you if you grow in seed trays and pots beforehand.

If you are going to sow direct into the garden then make sure that in addition to the earlier conditions, that germination times are similar otherwise one will outgrow and possibly smother the other. Be brave, make yourself a hot drink and re-examine those seed catalogues.

Visit the garden centres or the Harrogate Flower Show from April 21 to 24 and make your own palate. It is time for my next grazing session I think peanut butter and blackcurrant jam are worth a try.

Plants listed on pictures

Picture 1 - Hot

Begonia Million Kisses ‘Amour’

Pelargonium ‘Mrs Pollock’

Begonia ‘Glowing Embers’

Helichrysum petiolare ‘Gold’

Pelargonium ‘Burgundy Glow’

Lobelia ‘Rosamund’

Petunia ‘Shockwave Yellow’

Fuchsia ‘Genii’

Fuchsia ‘Koralle Fulgens’

Verbena ‘Red Velvet’

Picture 2 - Cool

Isotoma ‘Gemini Blue’

Fuchsia ‘Mrs Popple’

Lobelia trailing Fountain White

Begonia Million Kisses ‘Elegance’

Lobelia ‘Fountain Mixed’

Helichrysum petiolare ‘Silver’

Petunia F1 ‘Easy Wave Blue’

Pelargonium ‘Designer White’

Begonia ‘Sherbet Bon Bon’

Bacopa ‘Scopia Snowball’

Lobelia ‘Cambridge Blue’

Verbena ‘Silver Magic’

Fuchsia ‘Harry Gray’