Lucky Seven for 7th July
05 July 2014 - by Lizzy Browne

I was recently interviewed for a magazine article and was asked the  ubiquitous question ‘what’s your favourite plant?’ I was prepared for this, in  that I knew the question would be coming, but still found myself dithering, then  citing a particular plant, qualifying it, changing my mind, adding a proviso  etc. How can any gardener possibly have a favourite plant? It’s like asking a  mother to name her favourite child. If pressed at gunpoint she may reluctantly  chose the child who is looking the cutest or behaving itself at that given  moment and I guess this is pretty much how I feel about plants. Except that very  few mothers have more than a handful of children to choose from but I’m  surrounded by thousands of plants every day. So as I dodged the heavy showers  yesterday I took a few moments to make a list of those that made my lucky 7 for  the 7th of the 7th. My ‘looking good in July list’ if you like.

1. Fargesia jiuzhaigou

After losing so many potted bamboo plants of the Phyllostachys species last  winter I am knocked out with the hardiness of all the Fargesias, which came  through unharmed. This recent introduction has outstanding bright red canes and  delicate foliage. It needs some sun on the canes for the colour to be really  intense. I think I’ve found just the spot at the nursery.

2. Verbena bonariensis

If there is a ‘cottage garden’ plant that exotic gardeners can enjoy, and  still hold their head’s high, Verbena bonariensis is it. The mauve/violet  flowers are held on slender, almost leafless stems and it blooms all summer and  autumn. You can mix it with Cannas and Gingers and not have to worry about  losing any credibility whatsoever.

3. Canna ‘Panache’

At this time of year Canna ‘Panache’ is my favourite Canna by virtue of the  fact that it’s actually in flower. Its one of the first to bloom with very  pretty, delicate, peachy petals. Later in the season I’ll be bowled over by some  of the giant Cannas but for now Panache is doing it for me.

4. Dicksonia Antarctica

Despite the ravages of last winter it seems gardeners haven’t fallen out of  love with tree ferns and neither have I. I love this time of year when the  fronds are a fresh, bright green with new croziers still unfurling from the  crown. It’s an excellent anorak activity, counting your tree fern fronds each  year, and tragically I still do.

5. Stipa gigantea

Most tall grasses are late season flowerering but Stipa gigantea flowers  emerge in May. These shimmering, golden panicles are held on long, long stems  and look impossibly ethereal in morning sunlight.

6. Brugmansia suaveolens

Every evening at 5pm (you can set your watch by them) the Bruggy flowers  switch on. As the last customer leaves, the perfume pumps out. If only we could  bottle it.

7. Fuchsia ‘Blacky’

Blacky is an exquisite Fuchsia with pink buds and deep black petals. We  propagated so many last year that we didn’t bother lifting them from the garden  last winter. Luckily for us we can now say with hand on heart that it’s a hardy  little number. With no protection whatsoever all 3 plants in our Edible Jungle  have re-grown beautifully (did you know you can eat the fruits? Full of vitamin  C apparently).

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