My favourite gardening days are those where I have no specific task in mind. The days where I wander aimlessly around my Cheltenham garden with a pair of secateurs, my hori hori or some loppers and cut back the bay or privet, pull out weeds at random from around the vegetable patch, cut odd flowers for a vase, tie in tomato plants, get distracted with sorting out a container or simply watch the bumblebees as they nuzzle their way from poppy to poppy.
I have a few favourite plants in the garden right now. It's impossible to choose a star plant but there are always plants that really excite me. Most days I'll wander through the space, assessing plants and spacings as I go. Making a mental note of what needs doing, to be stored away until I next have time. Usually I'll get distracted with picking something or pulling out a weed, but often it's a very quick walk round. Taking notes. Watching. Learning.
One of my current favourites is Veronicastrum virginicum. Commonly known as culver's root, Veronicastrum is a real show-stopper of a plant and an absolute do-gooder. It shines for so many reasons and is a plant I often include in my planting designs.
Veronicastrum is structural and robust with whorls of neat and striking lance shaped foliage. The plants can reach a height of up to 1.8 metres (smaller cultivars up to 1 metre) and are topped with striking flower spears from mid summer onwards. The flowers are loved by bees and other insects, make gorgeous cut flowers and add a striking vertical accent to a planting scheme. Once the flower spikes fade and die they can be left on the plant to provide ongoing structure throughout the winter months.
Colours include pale blues, purples, pinks and whites. With the most common and top performing cultivars being Veronicastrum virginicum 'Album', V. virginicum 'Fascination', V. virginicum 'Lavendelturm'. V. virginicum 'Temptation' and V. virginicum 'Adoration'.
How to Grow
For optimal performance plant in full sun to partial shade in an area of your garden that does not become too dry. The Veronicastrum in my garden looks stunning planted beside Anementhale lessoniana (New Zealand wind grass) and a beautifully architectural globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus). The tall spires poke up through the foliage of the grass.
Nearby stands a robust clump of Persicaria amplexicaulis. Some rogue oriental poppies have self-seeded themselves into the mix, along with a scattering of English marigold (Calendula officinalis) and Chinese forget-me-knot (Cynoglossum amabile). A very pretty looking border that provides forage for insects, shelter for small reptiles and even some useful medicinals and edibles.
Veronicastrum will always look better when planted in bold groups. Other possible plant combinations could include tall and upright grasses such as Deschampsia cespitosa, Echinops, Echinacea, Verbena bonariensis or Penstemon.
Unsure what plants to add to your borders? Get in touch with Emma at Wild Edge Garden Design who can help you create the perfect scheme for your garden.