Elly and I met whilst studying garden design together a few years ago and although we live an hour’s drive apart we’ve remained really good friends and we talk alot about plants and garden design! I love working with Elly and thought it would be great to introduce you to her and her favourite plants. Like most things, no two garden designers are the same and I’m sure you’ll love her choices here…
I’m sure any gardener will say the same, but it’s so hard to choose just three plants! My favourites change regularly with the seasons, and depending on what design project I’m working on. However, these are my current choices. Ask me tomorrow and they could well have changed!
This year I’ve loved how well the achilleas have performed in my garden at home. They started flowering in May, with their fiery-red, flat-topped umbels, held high over feathery soft-green leaves. As the season went on the flowers turned gradually paler, creating a beautiful two-tone effect, and even into October they’re still putting on a show as the seedheads turn brown and crisp.
I’ve grown them with grasses in my border – pheasant’s tail grass (Stipa arundinacea) and another favourite, Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’. All were planted new this year. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that the achillea and imperata make it through the winter on my clay soil.
The pasque flower has been a favourite of mine for years, since I first saw it growing in the rock garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. I lived in west London for about 15 years, and for much of the time Kew was like my local park. As a ‘Friend’, I could flash my season ticket and definitely got my money’s worth with the hours I spent there. I had never seen a furry flower before, and in the rock garden they grow in large clumps. The nodding mauve-purple flower-heads cry out to be stroked as they’re covered in a gorgeous silky, silvery down. The spring flowers are long lasting and are great in a rock garden, given their own spot where they won’t get overlooked, and mulched with gravel. Deadhead the flowers, before they set seed, as they tend to ‘bolt’ out on long stalks and look tatty.
This was voted Plant of the Centenary at Chelsea Flower Show 2013, and deservedly so. I love hardy geraniums full-stop, but ‘Rozanne’ earns its keep in any garden because of its total flower power. The large purple blooms appear over neat mounds of attractive green leaves, and just keep coming right through the summer and well into autumn without any intervention. They don’t seem to mind a bit of shade and come back reliably bigger and better year on year. ‘Rozanne’ looks great in traditional cottage gardens with roses and lupins, or trailing over the edges of containers. It also holds its own in contemporary gardens with simple and muted blue and white colour schemes.
Thanks Elly for sharing your favourite plants, I also love Pulsatilla’s which I used in my show garden but I love their seed heads! If you’d like to know a bit more about Elly, here you go…
I started my working life as a journalist, and worked on local newspapers, then on BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, which is where my love of plants and gardening really blossomed (excused the pun!) A few years ago, I decided to take the plunge and retrained as a garden designer, and it was at the gardening school where I first met Nikki. My business, Elly’s Wellies Garden Designs, has since gone from strength to strength, based just south of Bristol. I also write a regular gardening column for The Bristol Magazine, and do the odd bit of teaching to those interested in garden writing.