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plant f ocus

You know that agapanthus are a sociable, drought-tolerant bunch of city slickers, but being a bit exotic, your punters may be a tad nervous of growing them. City folk have got the microclimate, so persuade them to cram African lilies together in pots; the more crowded the better. Sell them the pots too, whilst you’re at it. Scented plants are much overlooked

*Trachelospermum jasminoides Mahonia x media Charity

Breeches’ (H: 1.5m x W: 90cm) be a more attractive option? Not much on the foliage front in winter admittedly, but those huge, glossy, jagged leaves mounting in height month after month, before sending up imperious stately flower spikes of hooded white flowers with aubergine-tinted tips is undoubtedly a rather more stylish, urbane statement. Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ (H: 5m

Hesperantha coccinea ‘Major’

approaches is a corker, yet I have never yet seen it offered in cityville. Surely it’s just as promising a contender for reliable groundcover or container planting? I’ve nothing against Vinca per se,

although frankly, some varieties make me want to tear it up in angry handfuls as it scrambles gracelessly across the flowerbed, all dull-green and scant-flower. Vinca minor ‘Ralph Shugert’ (H: 10cm

x W: 60cm) however, presents a very pleasing alternative indeed. The height of urbanity, its modern, chic leaves edged in creamy gold offer gloomy town gardens a splash of sunlight. Coupled with simple, saucer-shaped pale violet flowers, it offers townies a dependable, thoroughly modern groundcover plant for dappled shade. If I see yet another Cordyline plunged

in none too splendid isolation in a city front garden, I swear I’ll scream. Wouldn’t Acanthus hungaricus ‘Bear’s


x W: 4m) is the most architectural of evergreens for town gardens. Its sweetly scented primrose yellow flowers splinter the winter-city grey, whilst the holly-like deep green foliage and damson patina berries offer intrigue to birds and city gardeners alike in autumn. Gardeners in frost-free urban

environments can take great advantage of growing the less hardy candidates. Even a modest town gardener would thrill to growing the more exotic red lavender, Lavandula stoechas subsp. Stoechas f. rosea ‘Kew Red’ (H: 60cm x W: 60cm) as much as the widely available mauve flowers of L. pendunculata. Since red is a most gratifying shade in cities, smartly coordinating with buses and post boxes alike, Hesperantha coccinea ‘Major’ (H: 60cm x W: 30cm) with its vibrant branching scarlet flowers would make a welcome change in an exotic town garden. Another winning though undeniably

frost-loathing offering is the glamorous African lily. Gliding in with the ease of a pre-dawn city cab Agapanthus ‘Black Magic’ (H: 50cm x W: 80cm) with sleek upright stems explodes into generous architectural soot-black fists of pendulous tubular flowers.

in towns – I can’t imagine why. People tend to plump easily for the low maintenance architectural stuff, yet fragrance is the very thing we need in town gardens to mask all those nasty niffs. An enviable new candidate is the yellow star jasmine, Trachelospernum jasminoides ‘Star of Toscana’ (H: 9m x W: 6m) flowering through June and July when your customers are hot on the barbecue trail. The June moon is supposed to be ideal for romance, so this exotic evergreen climber is bound to enthral your clientele as it wafts sweet perfume from delicate butter-yellow flowers, romancing their urban twilight.

Lucy’s latest gardening venture ‘Lucy Summers Living’ takes her into the world of garden related merchandising. She looks forward to sharing new products and gardening technologies that she regularly discovers across Britain.

CONTACT Lucy Summers

Landscape Designer & Writer 07833 985 950

Image credits: *

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