Best of the bunch - Polemonium
These cottage garden favourites look great in dappled shade, where their lance-shaped leaves and clusters of cup-shaped blue, white or pink flowers show up well.
Also known as Jacob’s ladder, polemoniums thrive in fertile, well-drained soil and don’t take an age to become established. Among the most popular is P caeruleum, which grows to around 60cm (2ft) tall, producing soft blue flowers with bright yellow stamens, and self-seeds freely.
They make good companions with other early summer-flowering plants, including aquilegia, geum and trollius.