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Great Plants this Month Summer

Aeonium arboreum

Watering can be an industry in itself at this time of the year. During my increasingly frenetic morning and evening activity with the watering can, I throw my Aeonium arboreum grateful and admiring glances in equal measure as I rush past, making a mental note to water it in a few days time! With their bold, architectural […]

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’

There is a faint lull in our garden in the middle of June, many summer flowering plants are poised for the next act, but right now Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’ is the show-stopper. It has been flowering for several weeks already and will continue to do so for many more to come … and it is […]

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Great Plants this Month Summer

Rosa ‘Sally Holmes’ AGM

Laura knows a good rose when she sees one! A few years ago she spotted a neglected specimen which was just about surviving near an aircraft hangar at Shoreham airport. It was autumn, the perfect time to take rose cuttings, and they thrived. She gave one to me and we all called it Rosa ‘Shoreham […]

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Summer Great Plants this Month

Clematis ‘Black Tea’

If I wake in the night and can’t get back to sleep, I take a mental tour of the garden; and as it’s May I start by counting clematis. I get as far as C ‘Black Tea’ … beyond shadow of a doubt, it’s this week’s star plant and can only be described as ‘sumptuous’. […]

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Paeonia mlokosewitschii A.G.M.

From the moment the first young shoots push their way up through the earth in early spring, I am watching its growth daily, and waiting for the buds on this captivating plant to form. The anticipation is part of the pleasure of P. mlokosewitschii (also known as ‘Molly the Witch’) … the primrose yellow, bowl-shaped flowers […]

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Omphalodes cappadodica ‘Cherry Ingram’ AGM

Blue-Eyed Betty Thanks to a good friend (and 3growbags follower), who reminded me of the common name of this week’s special plant, I have been dipping into a couple of books by Margery Fish. Having read most of them years ago, I am again inspired by her chatty and informative prose and am finding them hard to put down. A […]

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Spring Great Plants this Month

Epimedium warleyense

In our garden, Epimedium x warleyense is the first of the genus to flower and it never fails to delight. The sprays of unusual coppery orange coloured flowers, held high on thin wiry stems, seem almost to hover above ground. The effect is delicate, yet this clump forming plant is tough and a very efficient […]

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Great Plants this Month

Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ AGM

This is undoubtedly a well known and popular cherry, and deservedly so; but somehow I overlooked it until a few years ago when, right time, right place, I found I had a gap for a spring flowering shrub and it fitted the bill perfectly. Compact, slow growing and twiggy in an architectural sort of way, […]

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Spring Great Plants this Month

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 […]

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Great Plants this Month Winter

It has to be hellebores!

I am not a fan of the sort of mild winter that slips almost imperceptibly into spring, so I am happy with this one! February means hellebores at their best, but I’m not going to get bogged down with too many different sorts here, for there are many, including some very interesting species. I’m going […]

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Great Plants this Month Winter

Teucrium fruticans

I don’t really linger in the garden in February, but I do go round it every day whatever the weather, and love to notice all the subtle changes. The best time for this is in the early morning after a sharp frost: I never fail to be amazed by the transformations made by frost, and […]

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Great Plants this Month Winter

Chaenomeles x superba ‘Pink Lady’ AGM

Everyone is familiar with the ornamental quince. They are easy to grow, very hardy, can be left to grow freely or be trained tightly against a wall. They also come in many colours, some more familiar than others, and are tolerant of almost any soil type. What is not often pointed out is the ability […]

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Great Plants this Month Winter

Arum italicum subsp. italicum ‘Marmoratum’ AGM syn. Arum italicum ‘Pictum’

Straight off I need to state that my subject this week is not for gardeners who like to be in control, for it is a great self seeder, and is further helped on its way by blackbirds. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it invasive but thought I had better sound the alert! […]

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Great Plants this Month Winter

Daphne laureola 

Many winter-flowering shrubs are unassuming, their blooms are usually quite subtle and many are fragrant; most often you catch the scent on the air before you notice the flowers. Daphne laureola, commonly known as the spurge laurel, is one of two native daphnes found in the UK and it is easy to grow and utterly […]

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Great Plants this Month Winter

Chimonanthus praecox

The name translates from the Greek as precocious (or early) winter flower, and it is without doubt the most striking plant in our garden this month. Striking, not only because it is so heavily laden with flower this year (and I am wondering how this happened after such a mediocre summer), but also because its […]

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Great Plants this Month Autumn

Echeveria rosea

Almost all echeveria will succumb to winter wet and cold in the UK, but not this one … not unless we have a particularly extreme season. It is easily the most able to cope with whatever weather is thrown at it. So I was very excited to come across this stunning succulent (bought from Bob […]

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Great Plants this Month Autumn

Malus hupehensis AGM

I have a confession. The tree in the photo above is not actually in our garden. About 25 years ago, our neighbour, who grew it from seed, planted it on the verge in our lane, so I watch its progress through the seasons from the kitchen window. This tree gives us pleasure on so many […]

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Great Plants this Month Autumn

Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’

It all depends on the sun, the wind, the rain, and the frost … and on the order in which they come and go throughout the year. Therefore each autumn brings subtly different colour schemes and it is why some plants excel one year where before they were more muted. Today it’s the turn of […]

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Great Plants this Month Autumn

Ageratina ligustrina

This unusual, autumn flowering shrub used to be known as Eupatorium ligustrinum and for once I am happy to see a plant renamed. Eupatorium are known to be a faintly thuggish lot and the idea of one with privet type leaves was not appealing. However Ageratina ligustrina is neither thuggish, nor does it bear anything […]

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Great Plants this Month Autumn

Symphyotrichum ericoides ‘Deep Danziger’ and other asters

There are certain genera that simply must be seen in flower before you buy them, and asters (or symphyotrichum as many of them have now become) are on that list. It is oh-so-easy to be swayed by glowing descriptions on labels or in catalogues, only to find that the colour and/or height weren’t quite what you were expecting, or […]

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Great Plants this Month Autumn

Vitis vinifera ‘Brant’

I have come to love autumn more as I get older; and for a gardener, extending the season through October and into November, it helps to reduce that dreaded void until January when the first snowdrops, hellebore flowers and other excitements emerge. Although it is essentially a grape vine, the primary point of growing Vitis […]

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Great Plants this Month Autumn

Gomphostigma virgatum

At first glance, this elegant, upright, small shrub looks as if it would revel in a dry sunny spot, much where you would expect to grow lavender and rosemary. You would imagine that its silver grey leaves and tiny white flowers would sit happily in a typical Mediterranean habitat. Well, it didn’t take long to […]

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Summer

Artemisia lactiflora ‘Elfenbein’

I say the word ‘artemisia’, and immediately springs to my mind the many silver-leaved forms that I already have in our garden. These are abrotanum, ludoviciana, absinthium, and pontica to name but a few, and the family also includes A dracunculus (French tarragon). Often aromatic, and with finely divided, decorative foliage, they are a useful […]

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Summer

Solanum laxum ‘Creche du Pape’

I love the potato family (Solanaceae), and while two of them are already great favourites, this one is relatively new to me and it’s very exciting to see it in flower. If you search for it online you will immediately spot discrepancies in the name, (and why on earth would the pope need a crèche?!) […]

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Summer

Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Erica’

One of the great pleasures towards the end of a holiday is to anticipate my first stroll around the garden upon our return. A week’s absence allows us to look at it all with fresh eyes, to enjoy the subtle changes, to notice the first flowers on an old favourite reappearing. This week Veronicastrum virginicum […]

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Summer

Cool foliage and egg shells

  There is no doubt that on a hot July day, it is extraordinarily restful to the eye to come across a swath of large leaves amidst all the visual bustle and vibrancy of flowers and smaller leaves. We almost require them, in order to make it all work: they act as an anchor, a […]

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Summer

Geranium pratense ‘Southease Celestial’

After I bought this geranium (from the marvellous Marchants Hardy Plants), and watched it transform into a celestial cloud of powder blue the following year, I felt I needed to visit its place of origin, so this took me to the tiny village of Southease lying due south of Lewes in East Sussex, tucked away […]

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Summer

Hemerocallis citrina x ochroleuca

What plant shall I choose today? In the last 24 hours I have changed my mind at least three or four times, such is the amazing wealth of flowers in the garden in June.Amidst the tumbling profusion of roses, clematis, philadelphus, geraniums and all the rest, the cool poise of Hemerocallis citrina x ochroleuca won the […]

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Summer

Clematis ‘Belle of Woking’

I bought this clematis three years ago, a strong little plant in a 9cm pot and it has never looked back. I mention the size of the pot because I find that these young plants, although by their size are vulnerable and need a bit of extra protection initially, soon romp away and establish well. […]

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Summer

Heuchera ‘Brown Finch’

I am going for ‘subtle’ this week. If you want flamboyance, there is Chelsea! At this time of the year, almost every time I walk round the garden, something new is starting into flower, and naturally my attention is caught by the colour and exuberance of it all: roses, clematis, euphorbia, iris, paeonies … the […]

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Spring Great Plants this Month

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 until well into the summer. This is a […]

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Spring Great Plants this Month

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 until well into the summer. This is a […]

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Spring Great Plants this Month

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’s also native to Greenland. For me it stands out from other violas on account […]

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Spring Great Plants this Month

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 […]

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Spring

Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’ AGM

Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’ AGM In this most magical of months when there is so much happening in the garden, I want to put in a word for a member of the currant family. Again, all too often the only one available, and therefore most often seen, is the very drab pink R sanguineum. You […]

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Spring

Bergenia emeiensis

Bergenia emeiensis Bergenia ciliata The name Bergenia might provoke a little shudder in some people, so I hope my photograph has instantly caught your attention, because this one is about as far as one can get from the murky pinky purple offerings most commonly seen in spring. B emeiensis is a compact, hardy, evergreen plant; […]