Thursday, 2 April 2015

Work Horses

My niece is having her front garden bulldozed this weekend.  The lawn is raised higher than the concrete drive which is quite dangerous for small children so the drive is going.  It means she has the opportunity to completely start again with her flower borders.  Many of the plants in my borders came with the house or are cuttings from friends and family: the rest I have bought or grown from seed. It hasn't been designed in any way! It is a complete mix of colour and height but I love it that way! Talking to my niece though made me think if I was starting again which plants would I use? Which are my Top Ten Perennials for my garden.  Difficult!

1.  Honeysuckle, clematis, ivy and roses climb the fences and form a backdrop for our garden. If I had to choose it would be the honeysuckle. I love the smell, especially on a warm summer evening.  Oh, I would miss the clematis .... our neighbour's house is smothered in pink flowers every May and some has escaped over the fence to our side ... lovely!  But the honeysuckle beats it in my book.  The ivy is not a contender but my second choice is .....

 2.  Rose.  I don't know the names of most of the roses in our garden because they came with the house.  If I was starting from scratch I would choose a David Austin climber ... Falstaff.  Beautiful colour and a strong old rose scent.  It can climb to 6 feet but branches out too.  The closest to this I have at the moment is Jazz. A deep colour, lovely perfume and quick growing.

3.  Sweet peas. So easy to grow, provide cut flowers for the whole summer, smell and look gorgeous and add height to the garden when grown over willow sticks in the middle of the border. What's not to like!

 4.  Lupins.  An absolute must in my garden.  Very easy to grow from seed and they come in so many colours.  They quickly bulk up and spread nicely.  I have half an allotment bed taken up with lupins.  This might seem a waste of good growing space but I use them as cut flowers in large vases all summer.

5. Delphiniums.  Half way through the list and nothing small so far.  I have three groups of delphiniums and two trays of seeds in the greenhouse.  I added some white ones last year: the dark blues are lovely but my favourite is pale blue with a lilac hue to it.  I don't know what I am growing because the seed is from my flowers so it won't come true.

6.  Peony roses.  It doesn't matter what kind I love them all.  This one is Sarah Bernhardt: it needs staking as it grows up to three feet tall.  The smaller ones look great poking through other plants in the border.

7.  Snow in Summer is great ground cover.  I had to choose between this and London Pride to keep to my list to ten.  The silver leaves of Snow in Summer gave it the edge although it was close! They are both great plants, spread easily and grow anywhere.

8.  Crocosmia.  Lucifer arching over a border or a small variety arching over a path?  I don't mind I like them all.  Start with five bulbs and a few years later you have five clumps.  I keep having to divide them and give them away.  It looks great next to .....

9. Fuchsia.  So versatile ... I have one that grows like a shrub, one that spreads over the ground, upright ones and smaller ones in my hanging baskets.  Don't make me decide in one!!

10.  So my last choice so soon!  it will have to be a shrub or a bush.  I think I will go with hydrangea, although Mock Orange is another firm favourite.

Well, that is my "Work Horse" list.  I didn't have room for sedum which is great for autumn colour or primulas for spring or red hot pokers or aquilegia or carnations  ...... thank goodness I'm not the one starting with a blank garden.  I would need a lottery win to buy my wish list! 


  1. Great choices with many of them my favourites too Patricia. I'm someone who started a garden from scratch 4 years ago and I'd be having a vacation of a lifetime if I'd have saved all those pennies.
    I'm sure your niece will make the space her own, with a little help from Auntie no doubt :)

  2. I have the same choices up my fencers but I was surprised that you chose snow in summer as a favourite. It is one that I find very invasive and I went to great lengths to eradicate from our garden when we first came into this house.