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Great Plants this Month Winter

Viburnum opulus ‘Xanthocarpum’ AGM

Yellow-fruited guelder rose – I’ve been admiring this guelder rose for weeks. It all starts when the shrub is still in leaf; then, as the season progresses, the gorgeous, amber coloured, translucent berries stand out more and more on their winter bare stems. And I’m not the only one who appreciates it; the little robin in my photo is unusually shy but she sits very happily among the berries, does she feel safer being so…

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Great Plants this Month Winter

Geranium ‘Dusky Crûg’

‘ There are less than two weeks to go before winter officially begins, but what an extraordinarily mild autumn it has been. Many borderline hardy plants are still flowering their socks off in containers and I am reluctant to dismantle them because they still look so happy, despite a few frosts at the beginning of the month. However, I need to free up the pots for my tulip bulbs so I must harden my…

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Great Plants this Month Winter

Symphyotrichum pilosum var. pringlei ‘Monte Cassino’

Aster ‘Monte Cassino’ No photograph can do this plant justice because it’s so difficult to capture the airy essence of ‘Monte Cassino’. It has a very open habit, with well-spaced stems that hold generous sprays of tiny, delicate, pure white flowers. The foliage is neat and does not interfere with the overall effect. Not only is this exceptionally beautiful aster a breath of fresh air at…

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Great Plants this Month Autumn

Mespilus germanica

common medlar I cannot resist the compulsion to make jams and jellies when various fruits present themselves throughout the year, and without a shadow of a doubt, if I had to choose just one of them, then the medlar it would have to be. This is the jelly that my family and friends love above all others; rich and full of flavour, it goes with just about everything. (Nigel Slater’s recipe is a good one…

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Great Plants this Month Autumn

Fuchsia ‘Whiteknights Pearl’ AGM

Last week it felt as if we had been plunged straight into winter, but today is more like a normal October day with the promise of some warm and sunny days ahead, and as I venture out, I am reassured that the garden still has plenty to offer. Since mid-summer, when ‘Whiteknights Pearl’ started into flower, I have been increasingly taken with this beautiful, award-winning fuchsia, and it really comes into its own in the autumn – partly through lack…

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Great Plants this Month Autumn

Helianthus ‘Carine’

Sunflower ‘Carine’ There are some gardeners who try to avoid yellow, and I will admit that there are many less than subtle shades; but it’s almost foolhardy to try and manage without any in September, so when it comes to Helianthus, take a bit of time, and choose carefully  from the many different cultivars that exist. Helianthus ‘Carine’ is very like H ‘Lemon Queen’, but more refined; it is slightly shorter, has the palest yellow flowers, and noticeably dark…

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Great Plants this Month Autumn

Stipa gigantea AGM

Golden Oats Sourcing and buying Stipa gigantea is not a problem, for this magnificent grass is a tried and tested old favourite but do please take a bit of time to position it. This is not the occasion to walk round the garden, pot in hand, desperately looking for a gap. To enjoy it at its best, bear in mind that it needs sun…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Phytolacca americana

American pokeweed Is this a ‘Marmite’ plant? I mention it, because as a child I remember my parents having heated discussions about its contribution to the garden scene. My mother was not a fan, and after my father died, I did notice that the American pokeweed mysteriously disappeared one day: but it came back in the form of a self-sown ghost, to…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Limonium gmelinii subsp. hungaricum

Hungarian sea-lavender I am on the north Cornish coast this week, and walking along the cliff tops this morning, my eye was caught by a tiny rock sea-lavender growing in the most inhospitable location imaginable: facing the wild Atlantic Ocean with all its accompanying salt winds and spray, it was growing in a crevice in the slate. Then I thought of our own sea lavenders at home. Unlike Monty…

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Verbascum roripifolium

Earlier this week, dodging the unrelenting rain showers, an intrepid group of plant and garden enthusiasts from the Sussex Hardy Plant Society came to visit: first to Laura’s garden and then ours in the afternoon. I had already been impressed by this beautiful mullein, so taking a cue from the exclamations of delight from our visitors, decided to make it my plant of the moment, the people’s choice! I raised…