We are taking a slightly different approach to our plant of the month article for July. Rather than choosing a single plant type or group of plants we are going to look at plants for places. One question that pops up time and time again from customer is which plant will be suitable for this area of my garden? So we thought it would be helpful to look at 10 plants suited to sunny locations, we will follow this up next month with 10 plants for shade.
Plants have evolved various ways of coping with hot, dry conditions. Leaves can give you a big clue: if they’re spiky, strappy, silvery, furry, waxy, scented or needle-like then the plant is likely to enjoy growing in full sun. If a plant’s leaves have two of these qualities (such as the silvery, scented foliage of lavender), then it’s pretty much certain to be a sun-worshipper and not mind going dry from time to time.
While selecting the plants below I have tried to avoid many of the obvious suggestions such as, lavender, rosemary and many herbs and instead focused on a few alternative ideas for a dry garden.
Stachys Bysantia (lambs ears)
A carpeting low growing evergreen perennial with soft silvery furry leaves, ideal as all year round leaf colour in the border.
A hardy reliable flowering herbaceous perennial available in a verity of colours . Achillea have aromatic leaves which are grey or green with fern-like leaves. They have daisy like flower heads in summer that continue through into autumn. They are ideal plants for any herbaceous border and grow well alongside a whole host of other summer and autumn flowering herbaceous plants.
They are clump forming and fairly indestructible. Achillea flower heads are excellent for cutting and drying in a warm shed or hot greenhouse but they should be cut when the flowers show colour but are not actually fully out.
Kniphofia (red hot poker)
Red-hot pokers make rewarding garden plants. Their distinctively-shaped blooms are among the most spectacular of hardy flowers. Kniphofia have a long flowering period though the summer and early autumn
There is a large range of shades and colours available to gardeners, with smaller habits and neater foliage. Colours range from red, orange, yellow, green and even brown and pink.
Agapanthus are known for their large, blue, white or purple drumstick-headed flowers in summer. These South African perennial plants are equally suitable for borders and large containers, where they often perform stronger as they like to have their roots restricted.
Agapanthus look great when planted with drifts of ornamental grasses, sun-loving rudbeckias and goldenrod (Solidago). Most agapanthus are hardy and their leaves die down in winter.
Large leaved Evergreen forms are more tender and usually need the shelter of a greenhouse from early winter to spring. Allow a few faded flowers to form seed pods in autumn to prolong interest and cut back to base when they have gone over.
A tall perennial with erect, branching stems which grow up to 2m in height, bearing sparse, oblong leaves and numerous branched clusters of small purple flowers from summer to autumn an ideal plant for the back of the border to add height and interest.
Perskia Blue Spire (russian sage)
A handsome shrub that reaches its peak performance towards the end of summer and into early autumn, when it produces masses of lavender-coloured flowers held on branching, aromatic stems. The white stems also add interest into the winter months while other plants have died down for the winter.
A fantastic addition to a herbaceous border or gravel garden, growing alongside plants like Eryngiums, Rudbeckias and Echinaceas. The flowers are a magnet for pollinating insects.
A medium-sized evergreen shrub that usually grows on a single stem, topped by a cluster of spine-tipped, stiff, green leaves up to 60cm in length. Grows up to 2m in height. Once established the flowers are nodding, bell-shaped cream flowers in late summer.
Delicate yet fleeting, each bloom only lasts a day but they're produced in great profusion. This colourful summer display, on robust and extremely drought-tolerant shrubs, makes cistus a stalwart of Mediterranean, gravel and coastal gardens, and the perfect choice for many tricky planting spots.
Festuca Elijah Blue or Intense Blue
A compact, blue leaves ornamental grass, with needle-like, silvery blue-green leaves and short spikes of blue-green midsummer flowers, gradually fading to buff. Neat and rounded in shape, it looks great in a gravel garden.
A deciduous grass growing up to 60cm, forming a compact upright tuft of thread-like leaves, narrow, arching, feathery flowers in summer.
Although the plant of the month this month is based around plants for sun which once established won’t require much watering, they will however require regular watering for the first year along with the rest of your garden. Now is a key period for watering, which will need to be done regularly if the weather is sunny. Avoid watering during the hottest part of the day and remember to feed your garden regularly with a liquid feed. Use liquid seaweed for foliage plants e.g box, miracle grow all purpose for most shrubs and perennials and tomato feed for shorter term planting such as bedding plants. To reduce watering further and help stay on top of the weeds, it is also worth considering mulching the border to keep a Mediterranean feel use grist or gravels to cover the soil.
After the first year the plants for a dry garden shouldn't require any further watering, the RHS garden at Hyde Hall haven't watered their dry garden since 2001. Another garden which features a similar design is the gravel garden at Beth Chattos gardens.
We hope you have enjoyed this plant of the month article and it has filled you with inspiration to fill the sunniest spots in your own garden. If you have a shady garden be sure to check out our August plant of the month in which we will take a look at 10 plants for shady spots.