At last we have had some rain, and lawns have begun to take on a hint of green – although with rainfall predicted to be less than normal for another month or so, no doubt it will be 2019 before lawns and plants fully recover from this year’s drought.
As I look around my garden now, it makes me realise just what good value for money some plants are, and these are the plants which I find myself using time and time again in my planting plans.
As many of our clients will know, there are some evergreens that I am very fond of, such as Pittosporums, which provide invaluable structure and foliage variation, and are also good for cutting. And there are other plants, which are real seasonal star performers, such as Magnolias, Hibiscus, and Ceanothus, and to a lesser extent Weigela, Kolkwitzia, Deutzia etc. These are majestic while in flower, and some of them are worth planting in most gardens, but once their relatively short flowering period is over, many of them are pretty dull for the rest of the year.
Plants that keep on giving…
But plants that I consider to be “good value for money” just keep on giving. Plants like Salvia ‘Royal Bumble’ (featured in a recent blog here), which started flowering in my garden in May, and has flowered continuously ever since (last year it kept going until the end of November).
There are other forms of these shrubby Salvias, such as Hot Lips (white with a red edge) as well as coral and pink forms, all of which give a medium to low airy layer of colour for months on end. This means that they can be paired with late Spring / early Summer plant companions at the start of the season (e.g. perennial Salvias such as ‘Caradonna’ or Paeonies or Iris germanica varities (e.g. ‘Jane Phillips’), and different and later flowering plants as Lavender and Agapanthus as summer moves on.
Many roses are also great value plants, flowering over a long period, although many only do so in flushes with gaps in between. But ground cover plants like ‘Kent’, with a neat habit and white flowers will give an almost continuous display, especially if deadheaded occasionally.
Other value for money plants (by my reckoning anyway) include Nepeta ‘Kit Kat’ – a wonderful and neat mauve long flowered edging variety, which is a great frontal plant, and (like Salvias) much loved by bees.
And then there are little gems like Armeria ‘Armada Rose’, a large form of common Thrift, which forms a neat evergreen cushion of fine leaves topped by deep pink flowers in Spring, and recurring again in the Summer. In my garden I have teamed this with Teucrium x lucidrys – another of my favourites to form a kind of informal dwarf hedge around a little feature border by my front door.
All of these are very drought tolerant plants, so they have performed well through all the hot, dry weather (when many plants just ran out of steam), although of course, they would have done well anyway.
And there are other plants, which offer almost as good value for money, but which perhaps need a bit more help in the form of watering during dry conditions. Plants which flower long, or have more than just flowers to offer. For example Fuchsias, Dicentra, Penstemons, Brunnera, Hebe, Sedums (now rather tragically renamed Hylotelephium…. yes, even these need a drink at times), and Potentilla.
So, when thinking about plants for your garden, can I recommend some of these humble ‘value for money’ plants – maybe not quite as spectacular as a Magnolia in full flower, but which will give such a lot over a long period, and can be combined with other plants to create really lovely planting schemes.