Top 10 plants for a dream garden

Posted: Friday 22 February 2013
by Kate Bradbury

I might move house this year. It’s very early days, but the possibility of having a bigger garden is sending my plant-collecting gene into overdrive

Viper's bugloss

I might move house this year. It’s very early days, but the possibility of having a bigger garden is sending my plant-collecting gene into overdrive. I currently grow plants in my small, shady courtyard garden. But after four years of this, I long to choose plants that require full sun.

So, if I can choose a garden with more space, good soil, a decent amount of sun and maybe even a greenhouse, what will I grow?

First, I’ll be able to consider plants that fail to grow in my current garden, such as lavender and viper’s bugloss. Then there are the trees and shrubs that have been too big to consider until now. And perhaps I’ll have room for a hedge or mini meadow (who am I kidding?).

And then there’s the wildlife. Which species can I lure into my garden? If I grow buckthorn, maybe the brimstone butterfly will come in to breed. Or perhaps a patch of red clover will attract rare bumblebees.

To avoid getting carried away, I’m narrowing the list down. Here are my Top 10 plants for a dream garden:

  1. Big cushions of lavender, covered with fat bumblebees and the odd butterfly.

  2. Honeysuckle, which I’ll train to grow up my house so, when I open the windows in summer, I can smell its sweet fragrance.

  3. A large patch of viper’s bugloss, one of the best plants for bees.

  4. I’ve never grown hemp agrimony before, but it’s apparently a hit with butterflies, so I’m keen to give it a try.

  5. A lawn dotted with cheery crocuses in spring.

  6. A silver birch, if I have the room.

  7. The mountain cornflower, which grows so well in my mum’s garden, but hates the shade of my current plot.

  8. A crab apple, in the hope that I can cultivate mistletoe on it.

  9. A large patch of nettles, for butterflies and ladybirds.

  10. Hawthorn, for its spring blossom, hedging potential and autumn berries. The fruits not only feed the birds, but also make a delicious ketchup.

I won’t consider which fruit and vegetables I’ll grow just yet. Perhaps that’s a blog for another week.

Which plants would you grow in your dream garden, and why?

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Talkback: Top 10 plants for a dream garden
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determinedpeterplant 24/02/2013 at 10:28

Your top 10 list is very impressive, i have 7 out of 10 on your list, the hemp looks interesting, i will try that i am putting together a mixed hedge, mainly hornbeam and holly, so i will add a hawthorn to that, the crab apple i have is a John Downie, the blackbids leave the fruit on the tree until the ground freezes, this is obviously their emergency reserve, I grow a lot of different lavenders from seed, other bird/insect magnets are oregano, rosemary and ecchium blue bedder,all have a prominent place in my plot
. Regards PG

flowering rose 24/02/2013 at 10:32

I would love to grow a fox tail lily but I know my soil wont let me,but I dream.

Wintersong 24/02/2013 at 10:54

Moist soil eludes me,thus bog plants are a big fat no-no.

My dream garden would definitely have a natural spring and Asian influence.

Busy-Lizzie 24/02/2013 at 10:55

I have 8 of those in your list. I would have to have daffodils in spring and roses in the summer. I love gardens full of the scent of roses. Also hostas for foliage (blast the slugs!), dahlias for colour and rudbeckias and michaelmas daisies for autumn. If there is a good selection of flowers then there is always something for the bees. I have a patch of stinging nettles at the edge of the woods for butterflies, but I really don't want them in the cultivated bits! 

Verdun 24/02/2013 at 11:38

My top 10 plants would be....hellebores, tender and perennial salvias, grasses, Acer flamingo, aster frikartii monch, Astrantias, Taxus Standishii, Taxus Coppershine, convolvulus cneorum, Heucheras, ......oops! My 10 is up.

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