Tag Archives | perennial

Shade Loving Perennials a Top Ten


Plants that thrive in the shade also tend to be heavy drinkers. Here is my top ten list

Top Ten Shade Loving Perennials for the UK

  1. Bergenia varieties including Bressingham White, Baby Doll, Rotblum and Bergenia cordifolia
  2. Hosta varieties including Aureo marginata, Moerheim, Halcyon, Wide Brim and Hosta venricosa.
  3. Dicentra varieties including Boothmans variety, spectabilis and formosa Luxuriant.
  4. Astilibe varieties including Deutchland, Europa, Fire Ostrich Plume and W M Buchan
  5. Alchemilla mollis
  6. Epimedium varieties including Roseum, Pinck Colchicum and Sulphureum
  7. Helleborus Oriental hybrids or species, cyclophyllus, foetidus and purpurescens.
  8. Polygonatum giganteum or multiflorum
  9. Pulmonaria varieties including Mary Motram, Dora Bielefeld and Roy Davis.
  10. Tellima grandiflora and grandiflora purpurea

Host flower slugged

Most gardeners have a shady spot so I hope this list gives you some ideas for new varieties to try growing. Of course most of these plants will tolerate some sunshine but then need even more water to thrive.

Shade Loving Ground Cover Perennials

  • Sweet Woodruff or Galium odoratum thrives in alkaline soil
  • Anemone nemorosa Robinsoniana has a carpet of ferny leaves and white flowers that all die down in summer
  • Lamium galebdolon dead nettle a scrambling, variegated evergreen.
  • Symphytum grandifolium or dwarf comfrey has leaves that make good compost
  • Saxifraga spathularis or St Patrick’s Cabbage is evergreen but not as cabbage looking as some gardeners.
  • Vincas minor Getrude Jekyll


Lamium by Shotaku CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Book Cover
Planting the Dry Shade Garden: The Best Plants for the Toughest Spot in Your Garden by Graham Rice
Dry Shade Perennials a Top Ten
Best Shade loving plants


Scented Phlox Give Gardens Aroma

What is the flower that groups of people look at and sheep meet in ? Well it has to be Phlox and in this case the perennial Phlox paniculata.

Top Variety Tips

  • Only 3 feet tall but the pure white Phlox of Mount Fuji earns its AGM. the flaring petals open out from twisted buds to form clusters of flat white scented flowers.
  • Another AGM winner is Bright Eyes with pale pink flowers having a deeper red centre. The foliage may take on the red tinge during summer and it grows to about 4 feet tall.
  • Phlox paniculata ‘Dodo Hanbury-Forbes’ AGM just for its name or Blue Ice or Blue Paradise to balance up the colour scheme.
  • Alpine phlox can also be strongly scented try Pholx divaricata

Continue Reading →


Knapweed Garden Gem or Invasive Weed?

Centaurea macrocephala also called Knapweed is a tall perennial plant in the cornflower family. Even wikipedia can’t decide about the scale and desirability of the Centaurea family.  As with many families there are good and bad and this species seems fine in my garden.

Growing Centaurea macrocephala

  • At 3′ to 5′ high this bold plant is ideal for providing vertical interest in a sunny, well-drained herbaceous border.
  • The golden-yellow thistle like flowers are on stiff stems from July to late summer and  mid-green, lance-shaped leaves are followed by attractive seed heads.
  • The flowers are attractive to butterflies bees and many insects as you can see. This and the attractive seed heads make this variety an eco-friendly plant to grow.
  • When dried the seed heads are excellent for use in flower arrangements.
  • Other Centaureas are blue and purple and can make fine cottage garden plants.
  • Avoid Spotted Knapweed that are invasive and ugly cousins  Centaurea biebersteinii , Centaurea maculosa and Centaurea maculosa subsp. micranthos

  • More insects on a Purple Centaurea that flowered in June.


Hardy Geranium Doubles

The compact foliage of some hardy geraniums make them desirable to grow as ground cover plants. The newer Geranium pratense Violaceum and Summer Skies have interesting  double flowers in purple and rose pink respectively. The variety Laura is a clean white double flower with less robust foliage. Hayloft plants currently offer these varieties in partnership with the Daily Telegraph.

The picture above shows hardy Geranium Rozane Gerwat in full flower. Other blue varieties included in the Telegraph offer are the low growing Sabini-Blue and Jolly Bee and AGM variety. Rather than spend too much money on offers look for friends well stocked gardens and ask for a root or two. I have just cleared out many hardy geraniums from my garden as they were getting too profuse. (Now the compost heap has a profuse overload).

New varieties and introductions like the double geraniums take longer to mature as plants and you will be lucky to find any being given away at the moment.


Growing Phormium or New Zealand Flax


Spiky perennial plants sold as Phormium are available in variegated or self colours but all have striking sword shaped leaves. Phormium Tenax is the larger more commonly available variety but there are now approaching 100 varieties to choose from.

Growing Phormium

  • Phormiums are best growing in a sunny position although they will tolerate a fair amount of shade and like a stream side position.
  • Phormium have tough leaves that are resistant to desiccation so in the garden they rarely need any extra watering.
  • Varieties with upright leaves, such as ‘Sundowner’ and ‘Dusky Chief’ are reputed to be suitable for growing indoors
  • P. cookianum varieties are less hardy but with some bracken leaves for winter protection they should be OK. Try Black Adder or Maori Maiden.
  • Fernwood Nursery has a national Collection of over 70 varieties



Anisodontea False Mallow


I saw these pot plants in our local garden centre and inspired by the prolific flowers wondered what they were. They are called the African Mallow Anisodontea capensis and I can see the resemblance.
According to the BBC site ‘The name might be unfamiliar, but this prolific South African plant has been grown for over a century in this country as a tender perennial pot plant. It flowers continuously through the summer into autumn, the hibiscus-like blooms varying in colour from light pink to deep magenta. The evergreen leaves are small and bright green. It needs to be overwintered under glass, but may survive winter outside in very mild, sheltered areas. May be propagated by seed in spring or by semi-ripe cuttings in late summer.’

I came across Anisodontea scabrosa, Anisodontea hypomadarum and Anisodontea capensis as varieties and I think it is a plant we will hear a lot more about as fashion and climate change impact. At the moment they are imported and I would prefer to see them grown in the UK before buying one for my own use.


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