Must-have plants for any garden

My must-have plants for any garden
Gardener Bourne End, garden care Taplow, lawn care Wooburn Green, Hedge triming Cookham, Bourne End Gardener.

I’m often asked about favourite or a must-have plant, but I don’t think there is a singular answer. Many merge together creating the effects I like, and succeed each other in an orchestral fanfare lasting months on end.

But these listed below can form a core that would enable a long featured display from February to December.

Specific varieties are mostly not detailed, that would be part of the colour scheme or them of an individual garden. They could all be a must-have plant.

There are some shrubs for structure, grasses and perennials that will start early in the year, others that will last until Christmas.

And now is the time to consider any new plants for your borders. March and April are best months for planting, and if it gets as hot as last year, May will be too late. Unless you have irrigation installed or area slave to the hosepipe.

My Must-have plants – grasses and shrubs

Cornus, coloured stem dogwoods. Or coloured Willows. These provide basic flowers on fresh leaves, but of managed well offer coloured stems from December to March. They must be maintained annually, else they can grow beyond reach and the task becomes a chore. These are absolute must-have plants.

Phalaris. A vigorous variegated grass that can be divided annually to fill spaces.

Calamagrostis. Super tall grass that forms large clumps, lasts through winter as a frosted statue.

must-have plants
Two striking grass forms together

Miscanthus. Generally softer than above.

Stipa Gigantea. A most imposing grass with open oat flowers.

Black currant. Minimal fuss plant with great rewards. Grows in shade, but better, sweeter fruit is produced in a little more sun.

Essential perennials

Rudbeckia / Echinacea. The basic yellow or purple flowers are tough and will self-seed. They can be temperamental in wet ground. The newer alternative colours are more tender.

must-have plants
Echinacea purpurea, Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’

Lupin. A packet of Russel hybrid seeds will see your garden full of flowers for years.

Crocosmia. The fresh dense growth provides a great contrast to most other forms. A few nice flower colours too.

Iris Germanica. Buy from a specialist as bare roots, all the colours you could imagine, various sizes and variegated forms too. The flowers can be shirt lived, but are still must-have plants.

Must-have plants
Bearded Iris provide some of the most intricate flowers in the garden. Short lived in warm periods, but so worthwhile.

Echinops. Spikey blue/purple globes on serrated leaves, can be vigorous.

must-have plants
The spiky foliage and flowers contrast with soft foliage and rounded Achillea

Eryngium. Sea holly, spiky leaves and flowers, great contrast.

Achillea. I love the tall yellow flowered version that look like cauliflower. Other colours are available, but can be more tender.

Must-have plants
Achillea cloth of gold.Tall, log-lasting, contrasting flower and foliage form. A simple must-have plant.

Hemerocallis. Day lillies, a mainstay for any garden. The flowers offer morning and evening therapy, deadheading while checking the rest of the beds. The more you deadhead, the more flowers are produced. So many colours, spreads easily, grows in ditches on freeways in California so is very tough.

must-have plants
An example of some day lily colours.

Verbena Bonariensis. Never be without this plant. I use it with Stipa to form screens through which the garden can be viewed.

Must-have plants
Stipa gigantea and Verbena bonariensis combine beaufifully.

Penstemon. Or this one. It is generally tough when established, many colours that can flower into December. Can be susceptible to drought or waterlogging.

Ground cover must-haves

Ajuga. This is wonderful, all but indestructible ground cover, bronze leaf with blue flowers. Leaf shades, size and flower colour vary slightly.

Heuchera. A wonderful variety of leaf/flower colour combinations mostly for shade or partial sun.

Geranium. The hardy ground cover plant, not tender pelargoniums. They vary by leaf shape and size, and colour, and by flower colour.

Bergenia. A very useful tough ground cover that tolerates shade well. Varying leaf sizes and flower colours.

How to stop box tree moth caterpillar

Stop Box tree moth caterpillar
and other pests in 2020. How to treat box tree moth, stop box moth caterpillar, stop lilly beetle. treatment for box tree moth. 

In 2018 much of the UK had its first experience of Box Tree Moth Caterpillar. Though it has been around since 2011 or so, this pest has increasing  made its presence felt recently. Many have seen it after the horse had bolted. With their – in some cases very expensive – box installations reduced to just a bunch of sticks. In addition, the recent summer heat and lack of moisture contributes to slow recovery, with many plants overwintering without foliage. But you can stop box tree moth.

Effective solutions

From the ground up has tried various solutions over the last two years. Consequently we have tried and trusted plans to address this invasion for our clients, and stop box tree moth caterpillar.  Depending on the volume of buxus present  we have  effective methods to try to prevent infestation.  A combination of pheromone traps and direct spraying prevents and cures. Because the traps contain a lure that attracts the male, they are caught preventing any eggs laid by the female being fertilised.

Box tree moth caterpillars can defoliate your plants in a matter of days
Box tree moth caterpillar can defoliate your plants in a matter of days. 

Chemical spray or more expensive nematode or biological insecticide solutions are available to treat caterpillars directly.  Spray treatment needs to be thorough and get right inside the plant, past the protective web left by the caterpillars. Therefore we use pump sprays with a lance that get right into the plant, ensuring that all the foliage is covered.  For that reason using a hand spray is not effective. Because we need to kill off any infestation first, treatment is repeated every 7-10 days to start,  and then approximately every 4-6 weeks between March and October. Importantly, the spray is absorbed into the plant, where it kills the caterpillars as they eat the leaves.

Box tree moth – practicalities

Furthermore, timing of spray application is important. We spray early in the morning, helping to minimise any other insects being affected.

Bacillus thuringiensis var Kurstak is a product that controls box moth. This is a natural bacterium (not a chemical insecticide) that organic farmers use to stop crop destruction by butterflies.

To stop box tree moth caterpillar use these watchwords. Awareness. Vigilance. Prevention. Treatment. Perseverance. Contact us for more information.

The final consideration is recovery. Box plants can recover from defoliation through infestation or drought. As a result many box plants bear the scars of the moth onslaught after the growing season, filling out in the spring.