Kirengeshoma palmata

If you need a plant for Autumn colour in a very shady spot this is the best you can grow. It is also known as yellow wax bells and belongs in the plant family Hydrangeaceae. It has tall elongated stems that have yellow hanging trumpet flowers. Some people have described the flowers as being similar to those of a shuttlecock. These can reach up to 2ft when blooming – the rest of the year it is just a basal clump of leaves. The leaves are irregularly cut and similar to those of maple leaves. It also has attractive purple stems and prefers to grow in an acid soil and will thrive in cold, damp, humus rich conditions. It will need shelter from wind so grow in a protected area.   Check for slug and snail damage on young growth. Kirengeshoma orginates from Japan and Korea where it is found growing in damp woodland. It will come up year after year and slowly increase in size and can be divided  to create new plants, or can be grown from seed. Gather seed when ripe and put in pots, then place in the cold frame over winter – germination will occur in spring. This plant was given an RHS award of Garden  Merit in 2012.




Nicotiana sylvestris

The white dramatic eye-catching flowers of Nicotiana sylvestris are an elegant addition to any garden flowering in late summer. It is also known as the tobacco plant. This plant can reach up to 6ft tall with large green leaves. Although many Nicotianas are perennial they are treated as half hardy annuals in the UK.  Sow in mid Spring inside or in a greenhouse. Plant out after the frosts. If sowing directly into the soil do so in May once the soil has warmed. Grow in moist but well drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Cut the flowers regularly to encourage extended blooming. They make great cut flowers and work well in a container or as a statement plant at the back of a border. The genus Nicotiana (Tobacco flower) has evolved over time to suit specific pollinators. Many light coloured flowers of the genus are pollinated by hawkmoths. The flowers are long and tubular with a strong scent.


Crinum moorei

A bulbous clump forming plant that has green leaves that will reach 1 metre in height. This bulb is found in the Amaryllidaceae family and is commonly known as a ‘lily of  the Orinoco’ and originates from South Africa. They typically have a strong scent during the evening. The flowers are an elegant pale pink and look similar to Amaryllis flowers, blooming in late summer to early Autumn. They do best in moist but well drained soil that is fertile and humus rich in dappled shade. Otherwise the leaves will burn up in the sun. They are tender and will need protection from frost in colder regions. Always keep the neck of the bulb just proud of the soil. They can be propagated with fresh seed or from bubils in Spring. It was first described in the 19th Century by Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker,  then Director of Kew Gardens. It was named after the Director of Glasnevin Botanical Gardens in Dublin, a Dr Moore. The genus name is derived from Greek, ‘krinon’ meaning lily.



The Striking Purple Sunflower

Berkheya purpurea  was named after the Dutch botanist Jan le Francq van Berkhey (1729 -1812). Berkheya purpurea is the only purple flowered species within the genus. The majority within the genus are white or yellow. It is native to South Africa  where it grows in the mountains of the Eastern Cape, Drakensberg in Kwazulu – Natal, Lesotho and The Orange Free State. This plant is classed as a rhizomatous perennial which forms a dense prickly rosette of foliage. The single stemmed flower reaches about 1 metre in height and appears in UK cultivation between June and August. The flower is an attractive pale mauve with a darker purple centre. It was first cultivated in the UK at KEW in 1917 but only fairly recently has it become a popular garden ornamental. They grow best in soil that is fertile in full sun and well drained. It can be propagated by freshly collected seed or by dividing the root stock.



Flaming Red Nasturtium

This fiery red climber will make your garden look hot every summer. Tropaeolum speciosum grows perfectly against any fence, wall or hedge. Although it is classed as a Nasturtium it is only occasionally seen in a few gardens. The herbaceous climbing perennial will die down each year but will bounce back into life in spring followed by a burst of vibrant red flowers in summer. It originates from South America and typically looks best growing up an evergreen hedge such as yew.  At full height it will reach 3 metres. Experiment and try growing it through a Rhododendron or Holly. The key cultivation point to remember is that is a woodland plant. This means it likes shade and moist humus rich soil. In some particular situations it can handle some sun but for best bloom results it prefers cool conditions, After it has flowered bright purple fruits follow which maintains the interest through the season. It is fully hardy in the UK and was awarded a Garden Award of Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society in 1993. Propagation can be carried out by stratifying fresh seed or by division of the rhizome in early spring.



Laburnum Archway

Meandering through an archway of glowing yellow Laburnum flowers is a magical experience that you too can create in your own garden. This deciduous tree or small shrub puts on a wonderful show- stopping display each year during early summer. It has impressive pendulum flowers that are similar to that of Wisteria and are fragrant. It has commonly been referred to as the golden rain tree. It is a small genus that is found within the plant family Fabaceae and has trifoliate attractive foliage. However this  plant  produces shiny black poisonous seeds so take care when planting in areas with young children and pets. They make wonderful specimen trees or alternatively try the  horticultural technique of training  them over an archway or pergola to create an impressive display. It is best to select cultivars to suit your situation and some have been bred to have very long flowers. Once the main framework of your archway is created it will need little pruning. They are similar to Wisteria in that they only require spur pruning in early winter.  Be careful not to create large pruning wounds as they do not heal quickly and can as a result split the tree. They can cope with poor soil but do best in well drained and fertile soil.

The world famous Laburnum Arch at Bodnant Garden is well worth visiting.

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Exquisite Cornus

Dogwoods can be both beautiful shrubs or small flowering trees in your garden. There are around 60 species of Cornus with some grown for foliage like Cornus. kousa ‘Gold Star’. Others are grown for their winter stems or for attractive early summer blooms, many of these cascade down the elegant branches. Inside each flower are creamy bracts which are similar to a star in shape. There is a Cornus for every season in your own garden. Dogwoods grown for the colour of their stems provide excellent winter colour. Flowering dogwoods will put on a spectacular display in early summer ; C. florida, C.kousa, C.capitata and C.nuttalii do best in well drained but fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. All species of Cornus will tolerate full sun or partial shade. Winter shrubby forms do best in full sun. Some Cornus can suffer from Cornus anthracnose which is a fungal disease which affects the North American Cornus species. This infection can cause blotches and die back on the leaves but can be treated with a fungicide.


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Wonderful Wisteria

Wisteria is a large vine plant species which captures the imagination of many people. It is known for its attractive pendulous flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer depending on the location and environmental factors. Its leafy foliage is also very attractive throughout the growing season. The plant typically develops one main trunk with multiple side branches.It differs from other climbers as it does not have the ability to cling to surfaces. Instead it would typically ramble along the ground without any support. Once established Wisteria has deep penetrating roots and can become a heavy structure. This highlights the importance of using proper supports to make sure the plant is securely anchored. The beautiful white or purple blooms hang in large clusters and are sweetly fragrant. They can be successfully trained into trees, up walls, pergolas, as standards and many other structures. If buying a new Wisteria always make sure it has been grown as a graft or cutting. Seed raised Wisteria are typically less reliable and take longer to flower. Yearly pruning consists of shortening new growth firstly in August then again in February. Pruning helps flowering display by helping bud formation.


Check out the RHS guide to pruning of Wisteria






Trilliums are a beautiful ephemeral flower.  They emerge in spring and flower in the sunlight which hits the forest floor before deciduous leaves begin to grow on the trees above. They die down soon after the leaves block the sunlight above them. The name Trillium derives from ‘tri’ meaning three and it describes their defining characteristics of three petals, three sepals and three leaves. The colour range is from pure white to yellow and maroon and some petals curl back on themselves. The foliage of some species can be described as ‘toadshade’ due to the marking on the leaves. A rhizome which is very long lived and it can take up to seven years for many of them to flower from seed. They are unique in the floral world for emitting a range of smells ranging from delicately sweet to foul smelling. This scent helps the plant attract flies and insects or beetles as their pollinators. Grow them in your own garden if like a challenge and can provide the environment they thrive in. The ideal location is in a shady, evenly moist part of your garden with loose soil. Once established clumps can be lifted and divided once the foliage begins to die back. They can also be propagated by seed but the seed must be sown straight away. Trilliums have a double dormancy which means they will germinate in their first year but only produce a root. It is not until the next year that a leaf shoot will emerge which is followed by the characteristic three leaves in the years that follow.


Trillium Collection UK 

Visit Mt Cuba USA to view an impressive collection of Trilliums on display during spring.


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