10 of my favourite plants

When it comes to picking plants to grow, it pays to visit the garden centre regularly from Easter to autumn and check on-line, mail order suppliers for the newest and most impressive-looking plants.

Garden Shows like the Chelsea Flower Show, RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and BBC Gardeners’ World Live and others (visit www.garden shows.com for full a comprehensive list) are worth visiting too, as you will not only see the plants ‘in the flesh’ but will be able to talk to the growers and plant experts. For a superb range of escorted garden tours in England and further afield visit www.gardenvisit.com


Beer drinker’s favourite!


Beer drinking gardeners will love this relatively new ornamental hop, which can be used for home brewing, called Humulus Golden Tassels


Golden Tassels is a compact climbing plant, with excellent disease resistance that produces masses of traditional-looking hop cones in late summer and autumn. The hops can be picked for brewing or cut and dried for displays indoors. Grow it on an obelisk in the middle of a flowerbed or on a trellis to make a temporary screen.


Beetles fans collectable


Astrantia is a trendy plant that’s loved by many plant connoisseurs and Abbey Road is a much sought after variety


Named as a tribute to the famous Beetles album, the exquisite perennial border plant, Astrantia Abbey Road produces masses of burgundy-red pincushion blooms on top of 60cm stems. The flowers peak in mid summer but may well last until the frosts. It prefers a shady spot making a first choice plant for a dark and dingy corner.


Sedum casts a love spell


For something a bit different in your patio pots this summer, try Sedum Voodoo


Sedum Voodoo makes a neatly rounded mat up to 50cm high and has striking red leaves (it’s semi-evergreen) and beautiful, tiny rose pink coloured blooms from mid- to late summer. It’s great for mass planting as a drought lawn substitute and is a good choice for planting in the cracks between paving slabs. This easy-care plant forgives neglect!


Create a riot with roses


Roses are always listed in the top 10 favourite plants so if you’re a rose lover, you’ll want to grow this climbing variety called Boogie-Woogie


Boogie Woogie is specially bred to squeeze into small spaces, so is ideal for small modern gardens. It produces loads of delicately fragrant, shiny bright blooms that sparkle against the deep glossy green foliage.The mildly fragrant, small- to medium size, reddish-orange blooms that are yellow on reverse, cover the entire plant. Grow it rich soil on a pillar, fence or wall and it will reach up to around 2m tall with a spread of around 100cm wide.


Verbena – an ideal container plant


Verbena Peaches and Cream is a great choice for summer-flowering hanging baskets and patio pots


Verbena Peaches and Cream has vibrant orange blooms that fade to creamy yellow on trailing stems. Buy it from garden centres in April and May ready to fill hanging baskets and patio pots and it will last the whole season.


Soft and femine hibiscus


Bring a touch of romance to your garden this summer with the exotic blooms of Hibiscus Lavender Chiffon Noble


Hibiscus Lavender Chiffon Noble is a fast-growing shrub with double, lilac-pink blooms with darker veins in the centre that are up to 10cm across. It has a bushy habit and grows up to 2m tall, making it useful for filling gaps that emerge the back of borders. Deadhead regularly to keep it blooming.


Blue sweet pea for the garden and vase


Sweet peas Captain of the Blue looks stunning trained up a wigwam and especially when partnered with blue sweet peas in lighter and darker shades


Sweet peas are invaluable for bringing fragrance and flowers to the summer garden. To add some old-fashioned charm to your displays, grow the heritage variety Captain of the Blues, which has lightly scented, petite flowers in deep and pale blue. Its fine, delicate stems make it excellent for cutting for the vase.


Scent-sational tobacco plant


Free-flowering and easy to grow. Nicotiana Perfume Purple produces masses of dark purple, upward-facing blooms that are heavily scented


Tobacco or nicotiana plants with flowers in pink, salmon, cream and lime-green shades are stalwarts of summer bedding displays. You can buy garden ready plants, which can be planted outside after the risk of frost has passed. The blooms are magnets to bees, especially varieties that are scented like Perfume purple. Plant it in bold drifts, so you have plenty to cut for the house.


Phlox is as sweet as candy


With its neat, bushy habit, Phlox paniculata Peppermint Twist is perfect for patio containers – plant it next to a doorway where you can really appreciate its fragrance


Bred for pots, the striking compact Phlox Peppermint Twist, will be covered in masses of small, candy-striped blooms from July until the end of September, that’s if you remember to deadhead! In the afternoon, the rose pink and white flowers are deliciously fragrant making it attractive to butterflies. It also has good resistance to powdery mildew. Care couldn’t be simpler, just cut it right back in autumn once flowering in over.


Penstemon packs a punch


Penstemons are always guaranteed to pack a punch in a late perennial border and the variety Shock Waves is no exception


The tubular flowers of the variety Shock Waves are electric-blue and make a striking contrast for penstemons, such as the varieties Garnet and Blackbird that are wonderful rich plum colours. Penstemons are also are available in pastel shades that add a freshness and feminine touch to the autumn garden.

There are also some good reds too, like Flame, Red Ace and Chester Scarlet that will give a wave of colour through to November, when the hard frosts hit. Find penstemons a sunny spot with well draining limey soil and protect them from winter wet and they should last for years. Varieties with narrow leaves tend to be the hardiest but as a precaution against losses, it worth taking a few summer cuttings to have a ready supply of replacement plants.



 

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