Great Plants this Month Winter

Verbena macdougalii ‘Lavender Spires’

image of Louise Sims
Louise Sims

mountain blue vervain ‘Lavender Spires’

Midwinter brings its own very particular delights and most especially when the darkened skeletons of many plants fall under the cloak of a hard frost. These are the plants that have already given us long-lasting and floriferous displays in late summer and into autumn, and now they give us a second, more subtle show.

One of the main players in this ice-capped orchestra, as I like to call it, is the mountain blue vervain ‘Lavender Spires’, whose stems bow over like a frozen waterfall in extremely cold weather. It is just one of many plants that epitomise the benefits of not jumping in and cutting down the border before the winter. It’s a no-brainer: why wouldn’t you want to retain those splendid architectural forms?

This upright, clump-forming perennial is a recognisable member of the well-loved genus Verbena and is one of the more substantial among them. Hardy, tall (1.5m), and strong growing, it performs well year-on-year, and is a super-magnet to many and varied pollinators in the summer border when its abundant, branching stems are covered with tiny mauve flowers.

‘Lavender Spires’ is sterile and therefore unable to set seed, which is why such plants often have a prolonged flowering period. It was Marina Christopher who grew a tray of V. macdougalii seedlings and spotted one that looked ‘different’ – this turned out to be ‘Lavender Spires’. It does best in full sun and is tolerant of a wide range of soils providing it doesn’t get water-logged in winter.

NB Louise has published a beautifully produced book of her plant profiles – A Plant for Each Week of the Year. It costs £9.99 and is for sale in our online shop here.

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By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

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