I like plants with attitude - good foliage, bold shapes and preferably bright colours. However I am wondering whether to go for greens and whites in one area this summer? The front garden also needs a makeover and with the impending hosepipe ban for the Midlands I am contemplating an arid scheme with some spikies and so on. What I do want is more permanence, although I guess I'll always want some seasonal plants each year!
|My little UK Midlands garden last summer|
I have very little room for new trees in my garden but I would like to try the sunny looking Cercis canadensis 'Heart's of Gold'. If its anywhere near as good as its cousin, the purple leaved 'Forest Pansy' then it will be worth the space in a crowded garden. Fortunately the pink flowers are said to be produced before the leaves unfurl each spring. Pink and yellow just do not go together and don't try to tell me they do in a garden!
|Cercis canadensis 'Hearts of Gold'|
One new shrub I want to try is Sinocalycanthus 'Hartlage Wine' which is a hybrid between the Asian C. sinensis and the North American C. floridus. It is said to be a fast growing plant and certainly the deep red flowers are spectacular with a sweet fragrance. Hilliers have been exhibiting it at Chelsea for a few years but the Plant Finder sadly doesn't list any suppliers. At the last show, a rather exuberant salesman was telling me about its origin but my overstimulated Chelsea brain didn't absorb the information - sorry!
|Sinocalycanthus 'Hartlage Wine'|
Although not a new plant I do want to get the golden variegated form of Fatsia japonica called ' Annelise'. This is such a striking plant that I am surprised it is not more widely available. I did grow it at the University though and found it to be slow growing, so maybe its shy to produce at the nursery stage.
|Fatsia japonica 'Annelise'|
Have any of you grown the new variegated Acanthus 'Whitewater'? It is described as having striking, deeply lobed and cut foliage that is heavily splashed with white. The pale pink flowers have almost red stems creating a stunning effect. Like most acanthus, its said to be fairly tolerant of soils but preferring a lean gravelly soil and not liking disturbance. there are four UK suppliers in the Plant Finder.
|Acanthus 'Whitewater' (internet picture - sorry about the quality!)|
The last couple of years I have fallen in love with an opulent looking purple Gladiolus, exhibited at Chelsea by Pheasant Acre Plants and called 'Purple Flora'. (Sadly no website) But gladiolus are such stiff unrelenting plants - how can I use them in the garden? Ideas please!
|Gladiolus 'Purple Flora'|
I have an increasing affection for Crocosmias and must try to source some good cultivars. Last summer I particularly coveted a cultivar called 'Carmin Brilliant' in Tim and Jenny's beautiful little exotic garden is West Bridgford. Its open under the National Garden Scheme later in the year and well worth a visit. Details of opening. According to the Plant Finder, this crocosmia is widely available.
|Crocosmia 'Carmin Brilliant'|
I have ordered a few seeds, amongst which is Ricinus 'New Zealand Purple' which is probably one of the fastest growing purple leaved plants available and undoubtedly the best castor oil plant. This is one of the annuals I MUST have. From seed sown in March it will make a 2m (6ft) tower of lush deep purple foliage with a wonderful metallic lustre. So exuberant!
|Ricinus 'New Zealand Purple'|
Anyone who has heard my talks on 'Designing Small Gardens' or read my recent book will know that I recommend keeping a 'Plants Want' list for times such as this. But do you really think I take my own advise? Never! I tend to be more of an impulse purchase gardener. I fall in love with plants, buy them and then decide how to fit them together. So maybe I'll add to this list when I've made a few nursery trips this spring and returned with a car full of new purchases ready for planting!