Flowering seasons will overlap, especially when the weather is variable. Research the plants you like to check that your garden can provide their growing requirements; for example, whether the plants need a sunny spot or shade, sandy or moist soil, and so on.
There’s something inherently cheerful about yellow flowers, perhaps because they’re the colour of sunshine. And they’re well distributed throughout the seasons so that you can grow yellow flowers all year round.
Yellow flowers for a spring garden
One of the first signs of spring in suburban gardens is the bursting into flower of forsythia bushes, made all the brighter because there are no leaves to obscure the flowers – the leaves follow later.
Hot on the heels of the forsythia are the first daffodils, from miniature varieties such as pompom-flowered ‘Rip van Winkle’ and tiny Narcissus cyclamineus, so-called because its flowers have reflexed petals like cyclamen, to the big strapping traditional daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus).
More spring-flowering shrubs
Ribes odoratum is a yellow version of the more commonly seen pink flowering currant and much nicer smelling.
The cornelian cherry, Cornus mas, has little clusters of yellow flowers on its twiggy stems before the leaves arrive. Common broom (Cytisus spp.) has lovely bright yellow pea-like flowers at this time of year – you see it growing wild too.
Coronilla valentine is a smaller shrub with similar pea-like flowers that are sweetly fragrant.
Small yellow spring plants
Primroses (Primula vulgaris) are one of our favourite spring flowers, equally at home in the garden as in the wild. Viola ‘Buttercup’ is an extraordinary bright yellow small pansy.
Cut off last year’s leaves to appreciate the newly emerging delicate flower sprays of Epimedium species and look out for bright bold dandelion-like flowers of Doronicum species.
Yellow flowers for a summer garden
In summer a whole new cast of yellow shrubs burst into bloom. Phlomis fruticosa or Jerusalem sage has hooded yellow flowers nicely offset by its grey-green leaves.
Buddleja globosa is quite unlike its cousin purple buddleja as it has masses of yellow pompoms instead of the familiar long flower spikes.
Fremontodendron californicum has arresting big cup-shaped yellow flowers and fig-like leaves and is typically grown against a wall to show it to best advantage.
Yellow isn’t a colour you normally associate with clematis but ‘Bill MacKenzie’ has bell-shaped yellow buds that open into star-shaped flowers that are produced all summer long. Thunbergia alata – also known as black-eyed Susan – is an annual climber easily grown from seed. Some honeysuckles are much more worth growing than others – Lonicera x tellmanniana is a vigorous deciduous climber with bright yellow flowers.
Yellow flowers for a summer border
Annual sunflowers (Helianthus) are classic summer flowers and now come in many more options than the straight-up stem with a single flower on top.
Yellow daylilies (Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus) have lovely lily-like flowers that open for just a day – hence the common name.
Achillea has flat heads packed with tiny flowers: ‘Moonshine’ is a brighter yellow than it sounds. Oenothera or evening primrose can become a bit of a nuisance in the garden as it self seeds so readily but bees love its cheerful yellow flowers and birds like the seeds.
‘Maigold’ is a gorgeous climber with golden yellow blooms; ‘Canary Bird’ is a tall bush with ferny foliage and single yellow fragrant flowers.
Yellow flowers for an autumn garden
This is when yellow daisies really come into their own and give the garden a last burst of colour.
Rudbeckia or cone flowers, named for their dark centres, come in varieties that give you a hint of what colour they are, including ‘Indian Summer’ and ‘Goldsturm’.
American tickseed or Coreopsis varieties are daisies of the prairies and come in shades ranging from ‘Moonbeam’ (lemon yellow) to ‘Sunray’.
Yellow flowers for a winter garden
In the depths of winter it’s still possible to pick a posy of Jasminum nudiflorum, the bright yellow jasmine. If you grow Chinese witch hazel Hamamelis mollis then you can add scent to that posy with a few sprigs of its strange yellow tassel-like flowers that sprout from the bare stems.
Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ has lovely sprays of yellow flowers arranged in a sort of cartwheel on top of its evergreen slightly spiny leaves.At ground level look out for Eranthis hyemalis, the winter aconite, with its cup-shaped golden flowers surrounded by a pretty ruff of green.