Everyone’s tastes and situations are different so no two gardens are ever planted up the same. Often customers want a garden to have all year round interest, sometimes it’s just concentrating on the summer months, sometimes it’s simply a case of what looks good and can stand a lot of hammer from a football!

There are certain plants that I do use quite often for different reasons, and I thought it would be useful to have a blog with photos of them that can be referred to when discussing planting plans.


Acers are superb trees for smaller gardens – you can tell it is a favourite of mine as I have an acer leaf on my logo.  Often customers are scared of having trees but it is important to get some height in your planting, especially if the tree in question is stunning!

For larger trees I think Silver Birches take some beating.  Multi-stemmed ones don’t get too big height-wise and the stems on these plants are spectacular.  They also have quite a light foliage which will let light through in the summer months.

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I use shrubs a lot in my planting schemes as they often tick the boxes for people who want a garden to look good but don’t want to have a lot of looking after to do.  Shrubs I use quite often include;

Dogwoods (Cornus) for their colourful winter stems and summer screening.

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Fatsia japonica for its superb, glossy evergreen leaves, which have a tropical appearance yet can survive our winters and a shady spot

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Philadelphus or mock orange – another great screening plant with gorgeous white flowers that produce a superb scent

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Deutzia – a superb flowering shrub with lovely variegated leaves.

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Phormium – big spiky plants that look great in a modern looking garden.  Don’t be too afraid of the size.  There are smaller vatieties – “Yellow wave” is my favourite. Despite looking tropical, these plants, which originate from New Zealand, are hardy.

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Physocarpus – beautiful dark foliage that contrasts well with lighter yellows and green.  There is also a “limey green” version that looks stunning.

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Cotinus,commonly known as a “smoke bush” as it’s wispy flowers look like puffs of smoke, is another lovely purple leafed plant although, it too comes in “limey green”

Choisya.  This is perhaps my favourite evergreen.  Not only does it look good, it produces a fantastic lemony scent on warm summer evenings, or at any time of year when you rub it’s leaves together.

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Euonymus – another evergreen which I often use as a bit of a filler.  It’s variegated leaves and low, spreading habit are useful for ground cover, cutting out the light for pesky weeds and making it a useful plant for low maintenance gardens.

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Phyllostachus – bamboo. This is a trendy plant which probably explains why it costs so much even though it grows like wildfire.  There are lots of different types of bamboo.  This one is perhaps the best garden variety as it grows in a clump i.e. isn’t invasive and has spectacular black or yellow stems.  Although it has been popular for a long time, I still think it looks best in a modern setting.

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Vinca or perwinkle – perhaps not the most exciting of plants, although it does have a lovely little flower, it is an evergreen that can grow in most places  – especially useful for shady spots under bushes etc.

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There are so many of these plants that do their bit in the good months and die back in the winter, only to re-emerge the following year, that it is hard to select a few to stick on here, but I will have a go.

Alchemilla mollis or ladies mantle, I love for ground cover and the way it holds raindrops on it’s leaves.  It can get a bit carried away though!

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Geranium or cranesbill – great ground cover, lovely bright flowers and straightforward to look after.

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Ferns – lots of different varieties and I love them – the way their leaves emerge and  uncurl in the spring is superb and they are another good shady spot plant.

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Heuchera – these are brilliant semi-evergreen foliage plants that produce a wisp of flowers that seem to hover in the air.  Lots of different colours to choose from but my favourites are the purple leafed varieties.

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Hostas – my wife’s favourite which explains why I have a bit of a collection of them at my house.  A lot of people are put off them because slugs love their leaves but I think it is worth giving them a go and protecting them if need be.

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Article written by Tim Staves