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Mystery Plants from inherited garden

Just bought a house with a flower garden, do you know what these are?

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Hiya!  We recently purchased a house that we're doing a re-furb on.  In the back garden, there used to be a bit of a flower garden.  I'll be converting the back garden to a veg garden, but there were some plants and flowers back there I might be interested in keeping if they can be identified.  Can you help?


Big 'ole shrub that needs some cutting back.  I'm guessing this has some berries on it that might be useful in keeping the birds off any fruits in my garden.



What's this little purple flower?  I think they were first blooming when we first went to look at the house back in late February.



Another purple flower, but kind of a globe-- these were also early bloomers that are out-going now.  They really cheered up an otherwise gloomy garden.



Firey-red flower...?



And is this any use or is it a weed?



Thanks in advance!  I'm kind of a newb at this and I appreciate your feedback!



The 2 purplish ones are primulas, the shrub MIGHT be an esacallonia, the fiery one might be a salpiglossis, the last one looks rather like a buddleia, but I'm doubtful.

I'm sure other posters will pile in.


I reckon that is a buddleia figrat. and the orangey red a mimulus.

The big srub, if the first two pics are the same plant, looks like one of the cotoneasters to me. and the first of the mauves aubretia, then a primula.


First one is definitely cotoneaster - watch it in the next couple of weeks, it will be absolutely smothered in bees !


I hope you're right about the bees chicky


1st shrub - could it be Chaenomeles(japanese quince) - if so, buds will have opened to bright red flowers. Or could be escallonia, as figrat says. Both worth keeping, trim back and remove dead wood.

Little mauve flowers - there was a large clump on a wall in my house when we moved in over 20 years ago and it's still there. I've always called it phlox, but I'm not sure that's the correct name

Mauve globes - "drumstick" primula

Fiery red flower - looks like a good colour mimulus, mine are all yellow and spread like mad, but very pretty flowers

Green plant which "looks like a weed" - definitely a buddleia, the butterfly bush, with most commonly long spikes of flowers, mostly purple but lots of other colours and sometimes globe-shaped. The purple long flowered sort self-seed prolifically round the garden, but are well worth having to attract butterflies and bees, and are easy to grow. can get quite big and woody - I wouldn't leave it in a gap in the paving.



First shrub almost certainly a cotoneaster. Much loved by bees then in January has lots of red berries that are much loved by blackbirds. Will take some quite heavy pruning to keep it in check but troublefree. The orange flower is a mimulus which likes thigs to be damp and finally, yes, it is a buddleia. Not sure about the blue flowers.


Photo 1. I agree, cotoneaster; Japanese quince would be nearly over by now, my 2 (which are salmon, and white) have pretty much finished. Photo 3. aubretia; they have very distinctive leaf shapes. It is a useful low border plant, you could dig up bits and transplant if you want more of it. Last one is a buddleia, bit of a thug I think and yes, Ginny May is right dig it up and plant it elsewhere where there is lots of room (though I would bin it and get one that is right for the garden as that is probably self seeded in that position.


Definitely cotoneaster and you can cut that back into shape. Great for bees. Agree with the others- phlox, drumstick primulas -which you can divide up and pop into other places too- and buddleia. As art says you may be best to get a named variety rather than keep this but maybe wait and see what it's like- cut it back hard in late winter /early spring to stop it getting big and woody. It flowers on the new growth anyway.

Exciting project - good luck with it!


I still think the phlox is aubrieta but as I can't get it big enough to focus on I can't be sure.


...yes I find that to be aubrieta... I've just copied the image onto Word and enlarged it..


Yes it is aubrieta. On my tablet ican enlarge very big and it definitely is


Ah well, I wasn't sure bout the phlox; I did think phlox was supposed to have 5 petals, not 4. Will revise my naming of the one on my wall, so thank you!

Awuh thanks folks!  These suggestions have been invaluable!

I started trimming back the dead branches of the cotonester-- I suspected it was cotonester, but again I'm new at this and didn't want to go guessing.  I think I'm going to remove where its covering some of the ground area, keep parts of it at a floating cascade at about eye level and otherwise keep it as a backdrop.  A couple of nosey honeybees eager for an early sip did come over for a look while I was trimming... though I'm new at this, I did read up on what's been going on with bees the past couple of years so I'm glad to give them whatever help they need!  Plus anything to draw the birds from my fruit and veg in coming years is a plus.

I took up the buddleia that was growing in the pavement... yes it was woody!  There are others in the garden that I can pull up and replant elsewhere.

The rest will go into containers for now while I dig up the grounds in the back.  There's loads of overgrown roses too, I won't know that those look like until they flower-- and then some look like they may not flower this year because they weren't cut back.  The house purchase was a legacy sale and there's a lot of disrepair on the house in general, plus this overgrown once very loved garden.  I feel like I'm paying respect to the house and the former owner for carrying on with some of her beloved plants-- something I feel really good about.  So while hubster is inside sorting contractors, replacing dryrot, bathrooms, kitchens, and redecorating, I'm getting the garden going.

And this is a very thrilling project.  I've been chomping at the bit to get into serious gardening since 2010.  But between moving and starting a family, I hadn't gotten around to it and now I get to live the dream a little!  =)  I used to be one of those 'two brown thumbs' types, but the house plants I got two years ago have survived so far, so I have a lot more confidence! (famous last words, right?)

The house came with a potting shed and a lot of tools I'll need.  I cleaned out the potting shed yesterday-- just love it!  We'll be putting in a modest greenhouse with some cold frames along the side.  Dividing the grass in half-- half for veg, half for kids to play.  And in all I want it to be a space of peace and utility.  Its important to me for my kids to know where their food comes from as well.  I'm really looking forward to it all.

And I guess I'm overwhelmed and happy with how friendly folks are here.  Thank you for paying it forward and helping me... I hope I can do the same for others once I get some more experience under my belt and can talk knowledgeably about it!


Back garden before we got started...


Little house gnome we 'inherited'...


Potting shed after I got it cleaned up...



Sounds like a plan and welcome to the forums



ooow. rather jealous of your potting shed.. i need one of them.. been doing it in side greenhouse.. and my god it was scorching in there yesterday..



All great fun if hard work Jennifer! Potting shed will be invaluable. I'm thinking of adding an extension to the shed so that i can just go and hide in it 

Had another look and agree aubretia is right after all not phlox- the leaves certainly look more like aubretia. Difficult when we can't always enlarge the pix.


Jenn, good luck with it all. Re the Greenhouse that you will get; always get the size larger then you were thinking of as you will need it.


Welcome, welcome, I'm sure you'll be bending ears on here plenty and bring it on! Nothing like an enthusiastic person to bring up all our spirits. I bought my house 2 and a half years ago, garden looked well tended and so I was happy, it was on digging I started my knightmare.. I'm sifting and manuring and mixing with compost every border lol.. You have so much fun to enjoy! We'll be here, waiting to help, cajole and save you from suicide! Great to see a project, I'm like you, I have a young family and want to grow as much food as I can, AND have a nice garden too. I only found out from the neighbours that my whole garden was left feral for 10 years about 2 years before I moved in.. Literally, I move a stone, 3 docks, 2 dandylions and a bergamot start growing lool. I'm now busy mulching with my homemade compost.. I have 'dalek' bins, but have got a really good stirrer, so I get great compost in about 6 months.. If I can help then just yelp! Good luck, and keep up the good work.


Hi Jennifer. How refreshing to see that you are trying to keep a lot of the plants you have inherited.  So many new houseowners rip everything out, without waiting to see what goodies they have.  Still have some of what I inherited 47 years ago! Feel loath now to do anything about it.

I wish you well with your plans and you will find so much help on this forum and a lot of lovely, friendly posters.