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It is always difficult, if not impossible, to make a list of something you love. Just try it for your favourite music or pictures and you'll see what I mean. Herbaceous perennials (i.e. those plants that come back year after year and do not form a woody stem) come to the fore often during different parts of the season. So, let’s begin our list…
Salvia nemorosa ‘Carradonna’ – Balkan sage – has dark purple stems which contrast with violet blue flowers. It has an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS and it is good for bees and insects too. It has aromatic foliage and stands about 24 inches high, so ideal for near the front of a sunny, well drained border.
All lists need a hardy Geranium, and I find ‘Patricia’ more attractive with its dark throat set against a magenta flower, than the violet blue and light throat of ‘Rozanne’.
Scabious ‘Butterfly Blue’ loves chalky gardens and is a long flowerer. Good as a cut flower and again attractive for bees, hoverflies and butterflies. Called the pincushion flower, it is a purply-blue, and if you find the blue not to your taste, then try the beautiful and calming ‘Kudos White'.
Next, something tall and handsome: Ligularia przewalskii has dramatic dark stems with spires of yellow flowers up to 6 feet high, but needs a damp border next to a pond or it might wilt, especially in full sun. Lysimachia clethroides, also known as gooseneck loosestrife; that gentle curve of the white flowers rising to 3 feet but again requiring a moist-ish soil, or you may have to water in the height of summer.
Finally, perhaps a little over-used but for me Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm', planted in the front border of the old family home, a great mid-summer plant capturing memories and a fine display. I'll leave it to you to capture your own magic and memories with plants.
Plant Manager, Tates of Sussex