Really Useful Little Plants

Every designer has a "go-to" list of trusty plants that they use many times and love because they will always work. Here's mine...

Plants, Plan Your Garden

Like most designers, I have my favourite plants. Ones that I have used many times before and love because I know they will always work.

Yes, there are the big oomphy structural evergreen plants, and the ones with fabulous seasonal interest and / or wonderful foliage tapestry effects, or magnificent displays of flower colour.

But it might surprise people to know that some of my very favourite plants are a few of the smaller perennials and shrubs, which work well on their own or in combination with other plants. These are plants that are low(ish) growing, neat and tidy, low maintenance, drought tolerant (so good in raised beds), mainly sun loving, and long (summer) flowering.

My “Go To” Plants

Note: some of the photos below are not the specific variety listed. Where we don’t have photos ourselves, it’s sometimes hard to find an image of a specific variety that’s licenced for use on a commercial website. We’ve added a link to a Google search for each plant, so you can easily look them up!

Knautia macedonica Mars Midget

Much nicer – and shorter (about 50cm high) – than its parent, plain Knautia macedonica. Deep wine-red flowers all through late summer. Thrives in poor soil. Looks stunning in front of lush bright evergreen foliage (e.g. Pittosporum tobira Nana). Sadly not always easy to find these days, but worth the search.

The photo here is the parent plant; search Google for Knautia macedonica Mars Midget.

Image credit

Origanum laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’

A nice plant for extending / linking late summer flower colour into Autumn. Very hardy, and good ground cover. Blue grey leaves with violet / purple flower spikes.

This photo is of Origanum vulgare; search Google for Origanum laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’.

Image credit

Nepeta Kit Kat

A dwarf neat form of Catnip which flowers all summer. Good ground cover and a fab neat frontal edging plant.

Search Google for Nepeta Kit Kat

Image credit

Aster amellus Violet Queen

A mildew free little daisy covered in inky purple flower for ages in early Autumn. Very tough. Looks wonderful with Origanum Herrenhausen, and with Sedums (now sadly called Hylotelephium (why???))

Search Google for Aster amellus Violet Queen

Image credit

Rosa ‘Kent’

A really neat and trouble free white ground cover rose, which goes well with all the above and just about any other plant I can think of! Great with Salvia ‘Royal Bumble’ (another favourite – and featured in a previous blog). Loves anything purple, or bronze leaved, or…… yellow flowered or…

Search Google for Rosa ‘Kent’

Agapanthus Navy Blue

A compact Agapanthus with lovely deep blue flowers in late summer, and adding lush interest with its strappy leaves.

Photo is of a different variety; search Google for Agapanthus Navy Blue

Image credit

These plants – along with others such as Salvia ‘Caradonna’, Geranium x magnificum, and Aster frikartii Monch (although this is a taller growing) – are my “go to” plants. They are happy in long hot dry summers, and add that bit of something special to an otherwise overly clean garden.

At a time when contemporary gardens are getting ever more clean-lined and minimalist, these little jewels with their non-garish accents of colour, give modern gardens a much needed touch of soul.

They are really useful little plants.

Like what you see?

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