Best Plants for Gravel Gardens

A gravel garden is a great option for a low maintenance garden. It also lends itself to Mediterranean-style drought-tolerant planting so plants like Lavender and Euphorbia are ideal and provide plenty of nectar and pollen for visiting insects.

Beth Chatto’s Gravel Garden

One great example is the Beth Chatto Gravel Garden. What was once an old car park is now a famous garden, due to the fact that is has never been watered! Despite being situated in one of the driest parts of the country and with poor, free-draining soil, it has become renowned for its spectacular display of drought-tolerant plants.

Here are our top plant picks for gravel gardens…

Euphorbia

Euphorbia Bonfire

A popular spring perennial. The foliage turns from green/purple to burgundy in summer, then again to a bright fiery red in late summer. In late spring it will produce large vivid yellow flowers. Excellent for edging in rock gardens or in mixed containers.

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Euphorbia polychroma

Long lived and incredibly showy, ‘Polychroma’ produces bright yellow flowers against a backdrop of contrasting dark green foliage. This award-winning shrub’s green leafy foliage turns to a red, purple or orange in the autumn providing a long, seasonal interest.

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Nepeta

Nepeta Faasenii

With slender spikes of lavender-blue summer flowers and aromatic, sage-green leaves, this dwarf catmint releases an intoxicating aroma when trodden underfoot. Ideal for attracting wildlife and creating a low growing border when planted in rows.

Agapanthus

Agapanthus Midnight Cascade

A bold, hardy herbaceous plant. Known as the African lily, this unique, drought tolerant plant produces beautiful pendulous flowers in shades of rich purple throughout summer. An excellent addition to Mediterranean beds and borders. Can also be featured in containers.

Agapanthus Melbourne

A stunning bi-colour addition with purple buds that open to reveal white flowers with a lilac purple stripe through each petal. Their vibrant, colourful flowers and shiny green leaves can really spruce up a deck by planting in borders and improve the look of fence lines or garden beds as edging.

Lavender

Lavender Hidcote

A reliable and popular English Lavender. Their natural bushy habit makes it superb for mass planting within a border or flower bed. Producing an array of sweetly-scented lilac-blue flowers in summer, coupled with evergreen silvery-grey foliage that adds interest throughout the year.

Dwarf Lavender Munstead

A beautiful compact and extremely fragrant variety. Producing rosy-purple flowers during the summer months, they can be planted en-masse to produce ground cover/low screening or in lines to create a great border effect. Excellent for rock gardens and herb gardens.

Gaura

Gaura Rosy Jane

A wonderful, free-flowering perennial that will produce bi-coloured blooms in a very pretty-pink and white throughout the summer. It makes the ideal border or pot plant, being clump forming with a neat habit. It is nectar and pollen rich and ideal for attracting bees to the garden.

Gaura Whirling Butterflies

Delicate and incredibly pretty, but tough none the less. This amazing perennial produces beautiful white star-shaped flowers (which resemble the wings of a butterfly) that stand against green foliage. Drought and heat tolerant, this Gaura is perfect for sunny borders and rock gardens.

Do you have any gardening questions or need any planting and care tips/advice? We have created a new Facebook group where you can write your burning plant queries and we’ll help solve them.

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RHS Award-Winning Blue Spring Bulbs

Blue can be a difficult colour to find naturally in a flower and is traditionally seen as an emblem of peace and calm. From baby soft blues to dark navy blooms, our selection of award-winning spring-flowering bulbs will surely bring some serenity to your garden.

Each of these bulbs have received an award of Garden Merit by the RHS for their quality, reliability and outstanding performance, so you can guarantee that these spring blooms are the best choices for your spring displays.

Here are our 7 beautiful award-winning blues…

1. Scilla siberica

One of the earliest blooms of spring. Boasting with an intense, true blue colour, these nodding bell-shaped blooms will add a touch of woodland magic to the spring garden. A great naturalizing bulbs for creating a sea of blue in your beds and borders.

 

Plant Scilla Siberica with…

Winter Heather

Loved for their outstanding upright and bushy habit, this mixture of Heather adds a touch of glistening colour to the winter/spring garden.

 

Narcissi ‘February Gold’

Always the first to blooms, this beautiful award-winning Narcissi’s vivid yellow nodding flowers will add a beautiful contrast of colour when planted with Scilla. A great naturalizer too.

 

2. Muscari Latifolium

An increasingly popular, bicolour species. This unique variety produces beautiful, scented flower spikes that transform from a light green, to blue and then open to an unusual plum purple. These bold blue flowers are perfect all by itself or can be used to create a lovely colour combo.

Plant Muscari latifolium with…

Tulip Fashion

Vibrant compact Tulips. These Kaufmanniana beauties bloom an empire rose with purple veins, a perfect companion to blue Muscari for dreamy, romantic spring bedding.

 

 Anemone Nemorosa ‘Royal Blue’

An easy-to-grow naturalizing Anemone. These vivid royal blue flowers will add a beautiful variety of shape and texture to a spring woodland-style when planted alongside Muscari.

 

3. Hyacinth Delft Blue

This extremely fragrant, award-winning Hyacinth has the most beautiful soft, porcelain blue flowers that are guaranteed to create a show-stopping display in spring. These easy-to-grow flowers will make a welcome addition to beds, borders or for the best visual impact, plant in groups with other spring bulbs.

Plant Hyacinth Delft Blue with…

Tulip Apricot Beauty

This award-winning Tulip is an early bloomer with soft apricot flowers. A perfect, sweetly fragrant companion for planting alongside the beautiful scent of Hyacinths.

 

Euphorbia polychroma

Incredibly showy, Euphorbia polychroma is a mounding perennial that bears attractive golden yellow flowers in the spring time. A lovely contrasting companion for the beautiful blue blooms of ‘Delft Blue’.

 

4. Muscari azureum

This lovely compact Muscari will brighten up the spring garden with their light powder puff blue flowers. This long-flowering early spring award winner looks spectacular when planted en masse to create a beautiful drift of colour, for an unforgettable visual impact.

Plant Muscari azureum with…

Tulip Orange Angelique

Make a statement in your garden by pairing the pale blooms of ‘Azureum’ with the soft peachy shades of this beautiful double-flowering Tulip. They also produce a light fragrance and will pair well with Muscari’s fragrant flowers.

 

Hyacinth Pink Pearl

Create a riot of colour with these delightfully bold pink Hyacinths. These highly scented blooms paired against scented Tulips and Muscari will create a heavenly carpet of sweet fragrant spring flowers in the border.

 

5. Puschkinia Libanotica (Russian Snowdrops)

Release an impressive display with this lovely, naturalizing bulb. These award-winning spring favourites will make a striking impact with their blue-striped white fragrant blooms. Ideal for planting in groups for years of spectacular blue flowers.

Plant Puschkinia Libanotica with…

Narcissi Surfside

Create a subtle and elegant display by pairing Russian Snowdrops against the pale yellow and snow white blooms of Narcissi Surfside. These beautiful pastel flowers will brighten up any spring garden.

 

Crocus ‘Snow Bunting’

This award-winning Crocus blooms is well-loved for its sweet scent and clump-forming nature. They bloom with crisp white petals that surround a fiery orange throat. A beautiful fragrant companion for Snowdrops in the early spring.

 

6. Chionodoxa Luciliae

These breath-taking blue flowers are a charming addition to the early spring garden. Their star-shaped blooms create a stunning woodland display when left to naturalize and it’s a wonderful way to add a blue sea of colour to rock gardens or the front of the border.

Plant Chionodoxa Luciliae with…

Cyclamen Coum

Bursting with beautiful charm, these low-growing pink Cyclamen are the perfect companions for planting with Chionodoxa to create a superb woodland-style carpet of colour in early spring.

 

Galanthus Woronowii (Broad Leaf Snowdrop)

A true staple of spring. For planting as a backdrop against low-growing Cylamen and Choinodoxa, the snowy white giant blooms of these snowdrops will make a beautiful fragrant accent plant to a spring woodland display.

 

7. Muscari Armeniacum

These electric blue flowers are guaranteed to liven up any  garden this spring season. As well as their beautiful fragrance, these award-winning blooms are easy to grow, naturalizing and create an amazing colourful impact when planted in drifts around shrubs or under trees.

Plant Muscari Armeniacum with…

Narcissi Jack Snipe

Hardy and striking. The frilled golden-yellow cups are surrounded by delicate pure white petals that deepen to a creamy shade at the base. This free-flowering award winner will create a striking, contrasting colour combination that will dazzle in the spring.

 

Tulip Ballade

This incredibly beautiful award-winner is a spectacular Tulip. Showcasing violet-mauve and white blooms, this unusual colour combination will stand out in borders or containers. An elegant variety for naturalizing in the late-spring garden.

Plant of the Month: Azaleas and Rhododendrons

Azaleas and Rhododendrons are the jewels of the late spring garden. Rhododendrons and evergreen azaleas provide interest all year round, while deciduous azaleas produce excellent autumn leaf colours. There are literally thousands of species and varieties and a huge range of flower colours. Their exquisite blooms bring notes of exotic colour to pots and containers, beds and borders and lightly shaded areas under trees.  Some are compact enough for the smallest gardens, others require the space of a woodland where they can reach massive proportions.

What’s the difference between Azaleas and Rhododendrons?

Our Top Picks

Azalea Homebush

• RHS Garden Merit Award winner

• Huge pompom-like trusses of double pink star-shaped flowers

• Easy to grow, highly fragrant and pollinator friendly

• Yellow-green deciduous foliage

• Perfect for borders, flowering hedges and containers

Rhododendron Sappho

• Purple buds open to wavy-edged white flowers with deep purple markings

• 9 flower trusses

• Easy to grow and evergreen

• Dark green, glossy ovate leaves

• Perfect for borders, hedging, screening and containers

Azalea Anneke

• Highly fragrant, large, lemon yellow flowers with gold spotting and yellow stamens

• 9 flower trusses with each flower spanning 8-10 in diameter

• Easy to grow

• Perfect for pots, containers and the border

Rhododendron Norfolk Candy

• Large, apricot-orange flushed maroon flowers

• Broad glossy forest green foliage

• Low maintenance and pollinator-friendly

• Perfect for borders or containers

Azalea japonica Pink Spider

• Large pink flowers with a white edge

 Dark, narrow foliage

• Compact, bushy shrub

• Hardy and evergreen

• Perfect for growing in the border, pots on the patio or balcony

Rhododendron Collection

• Includes one each of Sappho, Nova Zembla, Norfolk Candy and Marcel Menard

• Perfect for spring borders, pots or containers

Azalea Dwarf diamond japanese collection

 • Includes one each of Lilac, Red, Pink, White and Orange.

• Compact, small leaf Japanese Azaleas

• Masses of brightly coloured blooms

• Small, dark green foliage

• Perfect for patio pots or borders.

Planting

Planting time: October – March/April 📆

Location: Full sun/Partial shade 🏡

Flowering Time: April – July 🌸

Rhododendrons and Azaleas prefer well drained and light/acidic soil. Before planting, dig-in plenty of neutral or acidic organic matter (composted tree bark, leafmould, decomposing pine or spruce needles), and mix in well with the soil. Do not plant too deeply; all rhododendrons are surface-rooting and the roots should be just covered. Apply at least an 8cm (3 inch) mulch of chipped conifer bark or another acidic material. The mulch should be well-aerated, not firmed down.

Video Tutorial

Aftercare

Here are some handy aftercare tips to get the best performance out of your Rhododendron and Azaleas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT OUR NEW RHS AWARD WINNING RANGE

Plant of the Month: Petunias

Petunias have been one of the most popular summer-flowering annuals for many years. Their popularity is due to their several desirable traits. They’re easy to grow, reliable bloomers and are available in a wide range of patterns and colours. With a flowering time from June all the way through to October, Petunias are guaranteed to liven up your garden all through the summer time. Their many varieties range from beautiful border varieties to stunning trailing hanging basket partners. Here are some of our favourites.

Petunias make excellent patio, bedding and border plants. Producing wonderfully bright flowers with beautiful markings and contrasting colours, these versatile flowers will make a showstopping display in any garden.

Petunia Duo Mixed

With rippling double blooms in shades of rosy-pink, coral, white and bi-coloured raspberry and white, these sweetly coloured Petunias are ideal for adding beautiful long-lasting clusters of colour to your borders and containers all summer long. UK-grown Garden Ready Plug plants supplied.

 

Petunia Crazytunia Moonstruck

This new versatile variety of Petunia produces vibrant bi-coloured flowers that will add an impact to any summer basket, border or container display. The large blooms have sunny yellow centres that gradually fade in to a deep purple edging around the outer petals. UK-grown 3cm diameter plug plants supplied.

Petunia Crazytunia Collection

Our beautiful collection of bi-coloured Petunias are the ideal plants for brightening up your summer garden.  The collection of 12 includes 3 each of Cosmic Purple (purple), Knight Rider (purple/cream), Maniac Lilac (white/lilac) and Cosmic Moonstruck (purple/yellow). UK-grown 3cm diameter plug plants supplied.

 

Bright, bold and bursting with life, these elegant trailing Petunias are the perfect partner for summer hanging baskets. These trailing varieties will reward you with masses of bright colour all summer long.

Petunia Tumbelina Anna

This unique trailing Petunia produces double, ruffled hot pink flowers with a thick pale pink band around the edge. These prolific flowering blooms also have a pretty deep pink veining and a beautiful fragrance, which makes this variety a delight in summer hanging baskets. UK-grown 3cm diameter jumbo plug plants supplied.

Petunia tumbelina double Mix

Petunia Tumbelina is a very distinctive variety. Their large, double ruffled blooms are a perfect solution for adding a dose of colour to your summer baskets. This highly fragrant trailing Petunia can even be planted in window boxes and containers for endless display possibilities. UK-grown 3cm jumbo plug plants supplied.

Petunia purple flash

Does a mass of magenta purple flowers sound like something for you? Petunia Purple Flash will add a splash of vibrancy to your summer displays with their distinctive star-shaped white marking at the centre of their purple petals. These hardy blooms are guaranteed for months of enjoyment. UK-grown 3cm jumbo plug plants supplied.

Planting

Here is our guide for planting these popular annual flowers.

Borders

  • Preferably plant in full sun, but partial shade will keep them refreshed in the heat of summer.
  • Use a light, fertile soil that provides good drainage.
  • Plant in a good-sized hole that can easily accommodate the plant.
  • Add a layer of organic matter (compost) to the base of the hole and fork it in.
  • Give the plants a weekly deep watering.
  • Use a liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks.

Hanging Baskets

  • Preferably plant in full sun, but partial shade will keep them refreshed in the heat of summer.
  • Use a sturdy container with at least one drainage hole.
  • Fill the container with a lightweight potting mix to promote healthy drainage.
  • Mix a slow-release fertilizer into the potting soil.
  • Water daily and deeply, then let the pot drain. (Water the soil and not the foliage.
  • Weekly, feed with a water-soluble fertilizer.

Video Tutorials

Petunia Frenzy

Complete Guide: How to Plant Fuchsias

 

Fuchsias, with their fairy-like blooms hanging from rich, green foliage have long been a popular staple in the British summer garden. In fact, the popularity of the Fuchsia is such that there is even a national society for them, The British Fuchsia Society. They are easy to grow and maintain, plus they provide brightly coloured summer to autumn displays in hanging baskets, containers or patio pots.

Background:

Although widely used in British gardens, the Fuchsia is native to South and Central America as well as other countries with tropical and sub-tropical climates like New Zealand and Tahiti. Renowned French botanist Charles Plumier is recognised for first coming across the much-loved Fuchsia plant during an exhibition to the Caribbean in the late 1690’s, Plumier named it Fuchsia after German Physician and botanist, Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566). Fuchs is credited as creating the first medicinal botanical garden in Germany which he used for teaching his medical students.

Why choose Fuchsia:

Fuchsia have a great many attributes, the greatest among them being that once planted and established they can thrive in the British climate for years with minimal amount of care, here are a few more reasons why the Fuchsia is so popular:

  • Approximately 2,000 varieties of Fuchsia in the UK which come in a range of sizes and colour combinations
  • You don’t need many plug plants to achieve a fulsome and vibrant display
  • They are prolific flowering and will bloom from summer through to autumn in partially shaded locations or in full sun
  • Their pendulous blooms are perfect in trailing hanging baskets, containers and in patio pots
  • Climbing Fuchsias can cover arches and trellis’s easily, they can even be used to disguise unsightly fences or sheds

Types of Fuchsia:

Fuchsia are usually grouped into three categories: hardy, upright or trailing. A common trait to all types of Fuchsia is how the pendulous flower-heads will bloom with the outer petal peeling back to reveal the inner petals, formed in a bell-like shape. Often the colour or shade of the outer petals will be different the inner ones; giving the blooms their fairy-like appearance. Fuchsia come in a range of sizes and colours: pinks, purples, whites red and oranges in all manner of shades and combinations.

Hardy:

A range of bushy and, as implied, hardy varieties. Once established they can be left to the British weather all year round. However, it worth considering which part of the UK you are based in. Sub-tropical Cornwall’s Fuchsias will certainly have no issues, but it may well be worth covering up or taking more Northern based Fuchsia’s inside during frosty spells. Pinch the new shoots to encourage bushy and profuse flowering.

Upright:

Upright, Bush or climbing Fuchsias can be trained into wonderful shapes. They look particularly effective when trained over an archway. The beautiful, often pendant-shaped flowers are a delight coming in in shades of pink, white and purple. Our bedding range of Fuchsia plants includes upright varieties that are ideal for pots, containers and the summer border as well as some amazing climbing Fuchsias.

Trailing:

This variety of Fuchsia is perfect for hanging basket displays and in potted displays, trailing elegantly over hanging the edges. This type is more sensitive to frosts and should be brought in during cold weather snaps. You can even get a giant variety of trailing Fuchsia which look especially effective with their ample, larger sized pendulous flower-heads.

Climbing:

These vigorous hardy climbing Fuchsias produce abundant flowers along upright climbing stems throughout the summer through to October. With a little support they will rapidly climb up arches, fences and trellis and are ideal for large pots or containers on the patio.

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How to plant Fuchsia:

  1. Plant your Hardy Fuchsias in spring or autumn. Other varieties should be planted once all danger of frosts has passed in early to mid spring.
  2. We recommended using John Innes No2 compost when planting up your Fuchsia, avoid composts that are too peaty. In pots or baskets, three plugs will give an ample and effective display. The compost doesn’t need to be tightly compacted in your chosen container, Fuchsia do well with good drainage. If planting in a border display, space 30-40 cm apart.
  3. Once planted, water once a week. Take care to keep them moist but not waterlogged. Start by feeding them once a week. To encourage more blooms on your Fuchsia, feed with a high potash liquid feed and dead head fading flowers regularly.
  4. Fuchsia can be placed in a partially shaded or sunny location; however, they will appreciate partial shade during in the heat of the day during the summer months.
  5. It’s worth checking your Fuchsias over for pests and insects. The Fuchsia gall mite is one to keep an eye out for. Although the pest is not frequently or widely reported in the UK, the past ten years has seen this Fuchsia munching pest in gardens along the south coast and in some northern counties too. A little vigilance goes a long way in deterring the mite and harsh chemical treatments are not necessary. Simply check over your Fuchsia, remove and burn any damaged shoots, especially if they appear a yellowish-green or swollen and distorted.
  6. Prune back in spring just before new growths appear. With Hardy Fuchsia it’s best to prune back to ground level.

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August Plant of the Month – Oriental and OT Lilies

Oriental and OT Lilies

For a large, showy display you can’t go wrong with a beautiful Lily and this month we’re focusing on the Oriental and Oriental Trumpet (OT) Lilies. Native to Japan, these highly fragrant beauties are often called stargazers as their flowers tend to be outward and upward facing, as if they are looking up.

Oriental Lilies

Lily Fields of Gold

With their unusual and unique colour and markings Oriental Lilies are truly exquisite specimens, producing an abundance of flowers per bulb. Hardy and easy to grow, they will reach heights of two to six feet tall, excellent additions to a beds or borders and they can even be grown in pots. Oriental lilies will bloom late in the summer season, July – September.

OT Lilies

Lily Anastasia

OT lilies are a cross between Oriental and Trumpet varieties producing very tall plants, up to 2.5m mature height, perfect for the back of you borders. These beautiful Lilies can be incorporated into the back of your garden borders where they can tower over other bulbs and plants and act as a wonderful backdrop for your display. They will reach their full height by their third year and will naturalise if left undisturbed.

Planting

POTM August Oriental & OT Lilies

Plant at least 15cm/6in deep. Liliums prefer fertile, well drained soils, they’re not keen on lime in the soil. Surround each bulb with a little sharp sand under and above to keep off slugs and excessive wet. They give a much better display when planted in clumps of 3, 6 or 12 bulbs, 45cm apart. They appreciate the shelter of low growing shrubs or other plants near their roots. Planting time is from October to April/May. You can also plant lilies in pots. As they can get quite tall use a large pot that will fully accommodate the roots and you may also need to stake the plants for a bit of extra support. Stake at the time of planting to avoid damaging the bulbs.

How-to Video Tutorials

Oriental Lilies

Giant Goliath Lilies

Worse pest: The Red Lily Beatle. The adult bugs will eat away the foliage and flowers. Look out for orange-red eggs or black larvae under the leaves or late for full size (8mm) bright red adult Beatles. You can protect your lilies by spraying them or by hand you can remove and crush them but a large infestation could be very time consuming as you need to check daily!

Lilium Romantics collection
Lilium Romantics collection – These fabulous dwarf lilies are ideal for growing in pots or at the front of a border – perfect for smaller gardens that would be overpowered by the taller varieties.

Click HERE to view our full range of Lilies!