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Great Plants this Month Summer

Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’ AGM

I have often thought that if I was only allowed a single rose on my desert island, this is the one that I would choose above all others: its ethereal beauty simply cannot be matched. This slender China rose blends seamlessly with perennials in a mixed border, it is perfectly hardy but probably gives of its best in a sheltered…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Clematis ‘Vyvyan Pennell’

Clematis ‘Vyvyan Pennell’ was raised by Walter Pennell of Pennell and Sons nursery in the mid-fifties and was named after his wife. Pennells was founded in 1780 and is still in the ownership of the same family – quite a record!  So, Walter Pennell not only raised one of my favourite clematis, (which incidentally is probably the best known of all the…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Hebe hulkeana

New Zealand lilac: I’m sure I’m not the only gardener who tries to stick to the rule of three: a plant that you so desperately want to grow in your own garden but that after three unsuccessful attempts, you have to admit defeat. Well, this hebe is one of those plants that I really had to have, and thankfully on my third go, it worked!…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Prunus cerasus ‘Morello’ AGM

Morello cherry When I was a child, my parents grew a Morello cherry tree up against the north wall of our house, and even then, all those years ago, I remember thinking how amazing it was to see the beautiful snowy white blossoms looking so happy in their shady corner, to be followed by so…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’ AGM

There’s no getting away from it, skimmias are worthy but a little dull are they not? However, for the past few weeks it is their fragrance that puts them centre stage. It hits me the minute I step out of our back door, and for this reason alone I must grow it. So, they need careful positioning: suited to shade or part shade,…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Pachyphragma macrophyllum

‘Large-leaved pachyphragma’ is hardly a name that trips off the tongue, is it? And the Latin is not easy to remember either.I’ve grown it for years but do not often see it in other gardens, though once gardeners discover it, they love it. This hardy, semi-evergreen perennial with its rounded scalloped leaves is such a valuable addition to the spring garden. Happiest in shade or dappled shade, it forms an effective carpet (H: 30 cms) under trees and shrubs where its…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Tulipa turkestanica AGM

I have always grown tulips in pots. At least, I always start them off in pots – it’s easy to keep an eye on them and to judge how well they do and to see how much I like them. But every year, after they have flowered, there is the same old question of what to…

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Anemone blanda AGM

winter windflower or Grecian windflower Just as the snowdrops and crocus are starting to go over, Anemone blanda is there to take their place in the spring parade. Many of the best plant associations happen by chance and I certainly didn’t conjure up this one; but when the sun comes out after a spring shower, the brilliant blue of the winter windflower against the cinnamon orange…

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Great Plants this Month Winter

Polystichum setiferum ‘Pulcherrimum Bevis’ AGM

Soft shield fern ‘Pulcherrimum Bevis’ Just over a year ago I chose another soft shield fern to write about, and mentioned my difficulty remembering the names of ferns; well, it seems that I am not alone in this as I recently came across an interesting article by one of my favourite garden writers, Val Bourne, who tells of ferns, oestrogen and saucepan lids all in…

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Great Plants this Month Winter

Ribes laurifolium – laurel-leaved currant

Before this recent bout of snow and frost, the garden seemed almost to be in early spring mode and bursting into life with crocus, aconites, iris and of course, snowdrops. Now we have returned to winter and it’s just what the garden needed. However, my choice this week had already made its mark, quietly but…