Plants for small gardens by Thomas Stone

“PLANTS FOR SMALL GARDENS” was the subject of the talk given by locally based Thomas Stone, horticulturalist and consultant. After 27 years including experience at Mottisfont and Hilliers he is now freelance.

“ In limited space plants have to earn their place, and give good value for the expenditure involved” is his guiding principle. Useful plants are those with a long flowering season and life; plants that spread but can be cut back and then come again; plants with scent and colour (including foliage) that make an impact, to create year round interest, plants that thrive in shady, dry or damp areas or inhospitable conditions.

The following featured in some striking slides: Gaura lindheimeri; Penstemon “Raven”, Sedum “Autumn Joy”; Geranium renardii, G. Ann Folkard; g. Blue Sunrise; G. phaeum “Joan Baker”; G. “Jolly Bee” (keeps flowering); G. sanguineum var. striatum (flowers all summer long, and good autumn colour); G. Mavis Simpson; Epimedium x versicolor (for a dry shady spot); Dicentra spectabilis (for a dryish shady spot); Agapanthus “Headbourne Hybrids” (Leave until the frosts). Cyclamen, Narcissus (small forms); Allium x hollandicum; Iris “Knick Knack”; small bulbs such as crocus and rock plants and alpines. In Spring Chionodoxa forbesii and Scilla siberica. Other useful plants are Heuchera “Chocolate Ruffles”; Salvia “HoL Lips”; Salvia “Mulberry Jam” (back of the border); Salvia leucantha; Cosmos bipinnatus (to fill spaces, cheaply, from seeds); Dahlia Pompom; Helichrysum; Calendula officinalis; Verbena bonariensis are tall but plants can delightfully be seen through the lavender blue haze of the flowering stems.

Small shrubs: Daphne odora Aureomarginata; D. x Susannae “Cheriton”; Artemisia “Powis Castle”; Pittosporum “Tom Thumb” (trim hard)’ Pittosporum “Irene Patterson”; Polygala x chamaebuxus and var. grandiflora.

Small trees: Acer palmatum “Sango Kaku”; Acer palmatum dissectum atropurpureum; Grevillea rosmarinifolia; Acer griseum (interesting peelng bark); Prunus cerasisfera nigra (cherry plum); Cytisus battandieri (pineapple broom); Magnolia Stellata (slow growing); Betula utilis “Grayswood Ghost’, one of the smaller birches, white bark.

Since no garden should be without roses Thomas recommended: Rosa Bonica (flowers all summer, disease – free ); Rosa Roseraia de l’Hay, strongly scented; Rosa Snow Goose (rambler for a fence); Rosa Mrs Oakley Fisher.

As well as planting every available space Thomas advised planting in pots, sometimes colourful,, in groups, old stone sinks and between paving. He suggested planting a strawberry tower and drilling holes in walls to plant alpines, thus creating colourful features in the garden. Finally, of course when possible take cuttings to extend subjects’ lives.!