Cardamine quinquefolia

This rhizomatous perennial (closely related to our own native cuckooflower) always takes me by surprise when its fresh bright foliage appears in February. The attractive leaves are five lobed and toothed, and they set off to perfection the mass of pinky purple flowers which can appear at any time during March. These are always a hugely welcome sight as most other perennials are still well below ground and the garden is a little low on colour at this time of the year. It grows happily in part or full shade, damp or dry, and is best in an informal,...

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Abutilon vitifolium ‘Veronica Tennant’

Thanks are due to Laura who gave me this beautiful shrub as a small cutting a few years ago. I was already growing A x suntense which has stunning deep bluey purple flowers, but its season is fleeting, whereas ‘Veronica Tennant’ is in bloom from late spring well into the summer. This is a strong growing, upright shrub, much hardier than people might think (quite untouched by the recent -2’ here). The dainty saucer shaped flowers are a good eight centimetres across and bees love them! Abutilon must have full sun, good drainage and a sheltered spot and given...

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Viola labradorica: Syn Viola riviniana – Purpurea Group

Writing these twice monthly pieces, I am always learning something new, and this time I had to look up the exact whereabouts of Labrador. So now I know, and furthermore I understand why this little plant is so resilient, as it also native to Greenland. For me it stands out from other violas on account of its unusual heart shaped, purple flushed foliage which complement the flowers so perfectly. It is an undemanding plant and will seed itself about gently; a little too gently for me, as I could do with a few more, if only to dig up...

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Coronilla valentina subsp.glauca ‘Citrina’

Sorry about the rather long title, but names mean everything in the plant world and in this instance ‘Citrina’ is the vital word because without it, you will get a plant which (in my opinion) bears rather unappealing chrome yellow flowers. Coronilla valentina is a member of the pea family, a small evergreen (approx. 80cms), but it can reach well over a metre particularly if planted against a sunny wall. It is a gem (10 out of 10 says Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers!) and is definitely one of my ‘desert island disc’ plants. The palest yellow flowers are...

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