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Cornucopia - Six seriously underrated plants

Six seriously underrated plants
Vanessa Doyle

  1. Gladiolus Yes, gladioli. People have a love-hate relationship with them. You either love them or loathe them - a bit like Marmite. I have clients who nearly have apoplexy when spying a stand of garish glads - but they are so useful at filling that August gap before the dahlias really get going and other perennials have finished. They don’t have to be in garish colours - a stand of white gladioli is lovely. True, they do need staking in windy areas. I couldn’t be without them. I have wonderful rich navy blue ones called G. 'Blue Tropic', which I believe are quite hard to get hold of but they look arresting next to dark cosmos. A few years ago 'Crocus' said it could sell any plant going except the humble glad but I wonder if this is changing. Sarah Raven has to be credited with changing our attitude towards both dahlias and gladioli. Give them a try!
  2. Gaillardia Yes, that old cottage garden standby. Seriously underrated. They will flower continuously from April to December. They are the most undemanding plants for the right situation. They need full sun and poor soil which is very well-drained. They thrive on neglect. The old-fashioned yellow/red combinations are fine but the newer burgundy one which you can grow from seed is much more easily placed. I wouldn’t be without a patch in my gravel garden.
  3. Nepeta tuberosa Not commonly known but flowers over a long period. Tall candelabra type flowers which don’t look like a nepeta at all. Very arresting. Thrives in hot dry sites.
  4. Linum narbonense 'Heavenly Blue'. Linum perenne is often confused with this plant but it is a poor substitute. Few nurserymen offer this plant but I have it in my nursery because I find it perfectly hardy in this area given the right conditions. It likes poor dry well drained soils.
  5. Iberis semperflorens An ace plant not to be confused with I. sempervirens which is the common spring plant. I. semperflorens flowers February - May in shade. As fast as I have this in the nursery it goes out again.
  6. Campanula incurva Best on a well drained bank but the blue and white inflated bells on a low spreading plant are a wonderful sight in August when many plants are over. If you deadhead it carefully and in a rather fiddly way it will flower again.

First published in the Bucks & Oxon Group Newsletter, Autumn 2008
and subsequently in Cornucopia Issue 25.
© Copyright for this article: Vanessa Doyle

This article was taken from a copy of Cornucopia that was published in 2010. You could be reading these articles as they are published to a national audience, by subscribing to Cornucopia.


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