Fast growing plants are excellent
for new gardens to quickly give an impression of some maturity,
but make sure you don't plant too many and plant other things
as well (though not too close to these) to come through later on
- particularly true of the shrubs and trees.
japonica (Anemone x hybrida) - Japanese anemone (windflower)
- autumn flowering erect perennial, height to about 2-4ft
depending on variety, spread indefinite. Pretty, simple
flowers for an informal shady border (not keen on lots of
sun). Available in white and pinks. Recommended - "Honorine
Jobert", white, probably the best. "Bressingham
Tall upright flowering plants that tend to do their thing
in mid to late summer, various heights from about 20 inches
to 4 feet and colours from pinks to purples to orange and
leaves to about 4ft tall. Particularly bright green-yellow "flower"
heads in spring. Well known and deservedly so. Reputed to
emit a coffee scent.
Buy Euphorbia wulfenii
manicata - Giant rhubarb
The common name sums it up very well, although
this one is from the South American jungles and inedible.
The leaves are enormous, up to 6ft across borne on prickly
stalks to 8ft long. It is really a bog plant and needs moist
conditions, if you think you might be able to accommodate
its requirements and size, then little else will get the
same WOW! effect, I love them. Also notable in that it dies
back totally in winter (protect the base of the crown with
a thick manure mulch) and so all of this fabulous growth
happens from ground level each season. To 8ft tall and 10-12ft
Buy Gunnera manicata
Large noble grasses and impressive with
it. Available as many different named hybrids, many good
ones, particularly "Siberfeder" syn. silver
feather and "Cosmopolitan", "zebrinus"
is a horizontally striped version with yellow bands on mid
green leaves. Grow alone or as a part of a border.
Flower panicles good for floral art (or hitting friends
/ siblings - depending on age). 4ft to 9ft when in flower.
Grass Miscanthus sinensis
tenax - New Zealand Flax
These seem to be one of the "in" plants
of the moment. Great evergreen fans of sword-shaped leaves up
to 10ft long in green, purple or many variegated varieties.
These plants will grow large! up to 10-12ft across. Flower spikes
up to 12ft tall in the "weird and striking" rather
than "pretty" category. I have a feeling these will
be to the late 90's and early noughties (!) what pampas
grass was to the 70's.
On a different note, the Maoris of New Zealand
were using these to weave all kinds of things before anyone
got the idea of planting them in the garden and showing off
about it. "I always liked them actually, they just became
The ordinary green one is the best, and Phormiums
actually prefer clay!
coulteri - Tree poppy.
S / P
A subshrubby perennial rather than a true shrub. Grown
for attractive glaucous foliage and large fragrant showy white
flowers that are up to 5" across of ruffled white petals
with a large group of prominent yellow stamens in the middle.
Needs some protection, shelter from strong cold winds and grow
against a sunny wall if at all possible. Sometimes difficult
to establish, but once way should be fine. Height to 3-8ft depending
on how happy it is, spread depends on how far you'll let
it sucker as it goes. Sounds difficult, but actually is magnificent.
Buy Romneya / tree poppy
Hot Poker - Kniphofia
Long thin strap-like leaves and spikes of flowers that go from
yellow at the bottom to red at the top - hence the name. To
5 feet tall, should flower from the second year on, you might
be lucky in he first year.
Buy Red Hot Poker
Rudbeckia - Black eyed Susan
Long lasting large blooms on tall stems for the end of summer
and autumn. Bright yellow or a range of other autumnal tints
through orange to red
Rudbeckia Goldsturm - Black-Eyed Susan
davidii - Butterfly Bush
(Buddleja if you want to be pretentious,
sorry RHS) Medium to large shrub, fast growing (stand well
back) covered in fragrant purple cone-shaped inflorescences
4"-12" long in summer that are in turn frequently
covered in butterflies. Flowers of different varieties come
in shades from white through lilac to quite dark purple
with pinks too. There's also an
orange flowered variety B. globosa
with golf-ball sized and shaped inflorescences. The star
of the group for my money is Buddleia alternifolia, though
not as tough or quick as davidii.
thyrsiflorus - Blueblossom
Evergreen shrub, blue flowers in spring,
small mid green leaves about 1-3" long. To 6m (20ft)
high and wide, though easily kept in check by pruning. Variety "repens"
frequently sold - creeping blueblossom, height and
spread from about 1-2.5m (3-8ft).
There are annual and perennial varieties,
all are fast growing, this describes the perennials. Woody
shrub with masses of pink flowers about 3" across over
long period in summer. Semi-evergreen, to about 6ft wide
and tall given the space, unfussy about position but do
better in sun. "Barnsley", pale almost white flowers
aging to mid pink. "Bredon Springs", dusky pink, "Rosea",
rose pink. Short lived but easy to propagate in early summer.
gunnii - Cider Gum
Actually a tree if left to its own devices
that will go to 50ft +, if it's happy. However, don't
be too alarmed. What you need to do is treat it as a coppice
stool. Let the plant get established for one or two years
and then in Feb / March you cut it down to about 4-6"
above ground level. This encourages it to throw out new
shoots from just below the cut point. The plant will then
provide you with lots of very attractive glaucous blue/green
juvenile foliage that can grow up to 6ft from ground level
in a season. It's also reputed to keep midges and mosquitoes
at bay, so plant it near the patio.
A very beautiful foliage plant, excellent
against rather dull fences and as a contrast to other leaf
colours and shapes. Tends to be a bit fussy about position.
Likes to be well drained so incorporate lots of sharp sand
and / or pea shingle when planting it and only plant in
full sunshine, otherwise 6ft growth a year becomes 6mm.
Buy Eucalyptus gunnii
laurocerasus - Cherry laurel
Large dense, bushy evergreen shrub.
Long glossy leaves to about 6" long, dark green above,
lighter below. Fragrant white flowers produced in spring.
With the (quite deserved) decline of x Cupressocyparis lleylandii
as a hedging plant, laurels should be the ideal replacement.
They are dense and fast growing, but respond better to trimming
and don't just proceed skywards indefinitely.
Whereas conifers rarely if ever grow
from brown wood, even old established laurels will respond
to a severe pruning by producing fresh green growth from
mature brown wood that hasn't seen direct sunlight for
years. Within a year or so, you will be rewarded with a
new curtain of attractive foliage.
Don't trim with shears though, the large
leaves don't look good when they start to turn brown
at the edges after being chopped through. A smaller variety "Otto
Luyken" grows to about 3ft tall and wide and is suitable
for inclusion in a border.
Tough and hardy, a single plant may be grown
as an informal wind-break or at the back of a large border
where the dark green leaves set off other foliage and flowers
Buy Cherry laurel
Buy Cherry laurel - 2