A jewel garden is planted with flowers in rich, vivid colours that resemble jewels all shimmering together in the summer heat. The best jewel gardens, such as Monty Don’s at Longmeadow, are a riot of vivid colours such as emerald green, rich sapphire blue, amethyst, gold and ruby red. While most jewel gardens involve drift planting in a large south-facing border, it’s possible to create a container jewel garden by planting in pots and positioning them close together.
When creating a jewel garden it pays to think a little about the location, aspect and exposure of your site. Choose a sunny, sheltered site where possible, with a moisture-retentive soil. It’s also important to make sure there’s always something in flower – from alliums in spring, to dahlias in autumn. Carefully plan what you will grow and where, and you’ll have the perfect display for months on end.
Here are some plants that work well in a jewel garden.
Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’
Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ is a great choice for a jewel garden, owing to its striking, semi-double, bright red flowers, which appear from July to September. These contrast well with dark bronze stems and leaves.
Height x spread: 110 x 45cm
Tulipa ‘National Velvet’
A great choice for mid-spring, Tulipa ‘National Velvet’ bears velvety blooms in burgundy red, on tall, sturdy stems. It’s perfect for pairing with other dark-coloured tulips, or contrasting with opposite colours, such as orange.
Height x spread: 50 x 90cm
Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’
Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ has deep purple globe-shaped blooms held on tall stems from late-spring to early summer. Its blooms are irresistible to bees and other pollinators.
Height x spread: 80 x 15cm
Rosa ‘Charles de Mills’
Rosa ‘Charles de Mills’ is a classic old Gallica shrub rose, this has fully double, magenta-pink flowers in July. The blooms have a strong fragrance, so make sure you plant it near a bench, seating area or pathway.
Height x spread: 120 x 110cm
Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ bears gorgeous sprays of bright-red, funnel-shaped flowers contrast with mid-green, grass-like leaves in late-summer to autumn.
Height x spread: 150 x 50cm
Zinnia comes in a variety of bold, zingy colours, including lime green, fiery reds and oranges, bright pinks, purples and yellows. Some are semi to fully double, while single blooms attract pollinators.
Height x spread: 60 x 30cm
Calendula ‘Indian Prince’
Growing taller than most calendulas, Calendula ‘Indian Prince’ has rustic orange petals with a mahogany underside. It’s easy to grow from seed and can be used to fill gaps in the jewel border.
Height x spread: 60 x 45cm
Buddleja x weyeriana ‘Sungold’
Known as the butterfly bush, Buddleja × weyriana ‘Sungold’ bears clusters of golden yellow flowers with a strong fragrance. It blooms over a long period and is extremely attractive to pollinators.
Height x spread: 400 x 300cm
Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfennii
Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfennii is a lovely foil for more colourful blooms. Tall stems bear fleshy leaves and huge heads of lime-green flowers with bronze ‘eyes’ from March to May.
Height x spread: 90 x 90cm
Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’
Abyssinian banana makes for a striking centrepiece. When light hits the large, green, paddle-like leaves, it brings out their contrasting mahogany veining and margins, to dramatic effect.
Height x spread: 200 x 100cm
Keep plants blooming by deadheading spent flowers and feeding with a high-potash fertiliser once a fortnight.