July 11 – ‘A Break from the Norm’

IN recent articles we’ve been speaking about winter casualties with regard to the more exotic plants we’ve started to grow in recent years and suggesting that some of our more traditional favourites are more reliable. This may be true but the great thing about gardening in the UK is that generally our climate is very equitable and therefore allows us to grow a wide range of plants from all over the world and with that in mind I’ve listed some very unusual, fun and fascinating plants below that you might like to try in your own garden. 

Fascicularia bicolor

Fascicularia bicolor is a very hardy bromeliad which for the first few years of its life has a rosette of spiny-toothed silvery grey leaves, as time goes by the rosette grows bigger and forms clumps of other rosettes. At this stage it’s already quite an attractive plant but then the central leaves turn an incredible fiery red and from the middle of these vivid red leaves develops a low cushion of spectacular bright blue flowers. The colours are akin to the plumage of a tropical parrot and the overall look of the plant is stunning, a real must have and a great talking point. Plant it somewhere sunny and well drained.

 Pseudopanax ferox or toothed lancewood is an unusual plant from New Zealand. This unusual tree starts off with upward pointing leaves that are long and thin with jagged edges and are a dark bronze in colour. As the tree matures the older leaves hang down at a 45 degree angle creating a Christmas tree shape while the new leaves continue to point upwards. It’s very slow growing in our climate and prefers a sunny, well drained position but if happy will eventually have flat heads of green flowers.

 Trachycarpus wagnerianus is a fabulous, amazingly hardy palm. It can tolerate temperatures down to minus 20 degrees centigrade and will grow in full sun or semi shade. It has rigid, fan shaped leaves and a stout stem covered in coarse hair like material. It’s a palm fit to grace almost any garden and will survive the coldest winters and the hottest, driest summers, if you want a palm that really does what it says on the tin then this is it!

Muehlenbeckia complexa

 Muehlenbeckia complexa is a ground cover or climbing plant. It to comes from New Zealand and has many thin, wiry stems covered in very tiny rounded leaves. It will scramble across the ground or snake its way through a suitable support or a nearby shrub. Eventually it will produce greenish white flowers followed by white fruit.

 Hepatica nobilis is a stunning little plant perhaps only reaching 3 to 4 inches in height. It has semi-evergreen kidney shaped leaves but what’s amazing about it is its deep purple, anemone like flowers that appear in early spring, a joy to behold on a gloomy, cold day. Hepaticas are great for a shady site, are very elegant and have other varieties in white, pink and red. Give them a go, they’re long lived, easy to maintain and will delight you with their bold, colourful, cheery blooms.