Part of the planning for our new garden bench and planter was working out what plants to put in it. Since our wedding, my interest in pants and flowers has really grown, so I thought rather than heading to the garden centre and just picking what I liked, I would do a bit of research on the type of plants that would work well for year round colour, encourage bees and also vary in height to add interest.
So I headed over to the Royal Horticultural Society’s website and did a bit of reading and thought I would summarise a few of the plants I eventually picked out.
Allium are ornamental plants with bulbous flower heads and star or bell-shaped flowers. They also tend to have tall, leafless stems, so are perfect for adding height and often have a strong onion or garlic scent, so are good for attracting bees. They prefer full sun and well-drained soil.
There are many different varieties which bloom from late spring right through to late summer. I opted for the Sphaerocephalon variety which is a traditional tall variety that flowers in late spring and Cristophii variety which flowers in early summer to spread the flowering season.
I also opted for the Karataviense variety which unlike the others only grows to a maximum of 25cm, but spreads really well and has some lovely full flowers.
These were one of the flowers in my wedding bouquet and ever since then I have had a real soft spot for them, so were a must for the planter. They also tend to grow quite high with erect, wiry stems and showy flower heads.
I opted for the ‘Star of Billion’ variety, which flowers from late spring and throughout the summer, it likes the soil to be kept damp and whilst it enjoys full sun through to partial shade, it does perform best in cooler summer climates, so is perfect for the UK.
A few months ago Ed’s office had a bit of a sort out and decided to get rid of some palm trees which were in a very sorry state. They were each over a meter tall, and knowing how expensive trees and plants can be Ed decided to rescue them and bring them back to ours. The original intention was to have them in the house, but once we got them home we realised they were a bit too big, so they ended up in the garden and one will now end up in the new planter.
To compliment the spiky palm fronds I wanted another spiky plant and went for a Cordyline, which is a variegated, palm-like, evergreen shrub. The Torbay Dazzler variety I opted for can have fragrant, cup-shaped flowers followed by small spherical berries, however I haven’t seen these and am intrigued to know what they might look like.
To add some colour I went for a Crocosmia, Columbus which is a deciduous perennial with soft, sword like leaves and bursts of bright yellow, bell-like flowers in late summer. The flowering season on this plant is quite short, but I hope it will be well worth the wait.
Another perennial, this one has saucer-shaped flowers in loose clusters. I opted for Flames of Passion which flowers in Spring and has dark reddish-brown stems with deep red-pink flowers. Like most of the other plants it prefers full sun to partial shade and will give some great early colour to the bed, before the other flowers bloom.
As well as taller more architectural plants I wanted a few to trail down the front of the planter to break up the expanse of timber and one of the ones I opted for was Gypsophila Ceratioides. This is related to the common Gypsophila / Baby’s Breath of florist shops, but is quite different in appearance, with mounds of small, rounded green leaves and branching stems of white starry flowers with tiny pink veins, which should pick up the other colours in the bed nicely. It blooms from spring right through into summer and the flowers are attractive to butterflies, although they are few and far between around here! Unlike the other plants it does prefer drier soils, so we will have to see how it gets on in the bed with the other plants…
This is an evergreen perennial, with lots of foliage and small, tubular flowers. I opted for the Sugar Plum variety, which grows to around 50cm and has very dark red leaves – this was the main draw to the plant as it will add a variety of colour to the planter over the winter months when the flowers aren’t in bloom.
One of my favourite plants that I opted for was the Pink Sky Rocket variety of Tiarella. This is known as a good ground cover plant, with deep green leaves and spikes of large, soft pink, brush like flowers, which tower above the plant and appear in late spring. It enjoys a more shaded position, so will sit under the tree and should provide good coverage in the bed amongst the other plants.
Whilst making a shortlist and some notes before visiting the garden centre was useful, it really helped to see the plants in the flesh to see how the different types of foliage worked together.
I tried to opt for plants that complimented each other in both colour and texture and I love the way lots of foliage and leaves have some element of red to them. When planting them I tried to mix the textures through the bed, so the spiky Coryline sat away from the palm tree and the Heuchera and Tiarellaa also sat apart from each other as their foliage was quite similar. I also worked from back to front in terms of the plants potential height, with the taller ones at the back for obvious reasons.
Now I just have to keep them looking healthy and hopefully they will spread to fill the bed very soon… Watch this space.