‘Just incredible’: Garden pro shares top choice for ‘unusual’ plants guaranteed to thrive

Gardeners’ World expert gives advice on watering plants in pots

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Mr Plant Geek, whose real name is Michael Perry, has appeared on a number of television shows offering expert gardening advice. While working for a leading plant mail order company, his expertise as a product developer helped win Plant of the Year at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2012. He spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about a range of plants people could experiment with in their garden.

Sanguisorba hakusanensis ‘lilac squirrel’

When looking for a low maintenance perennial which offers versatility, Mr Plant Geek suggested choosing a Sanguisorba hakusanensis ‘lilac squirrel’.

“It’s a perennial that has this lovely architectural foliage which is a blue, green colour,” he said, adding that even before the plant had bloomed, the foliage was aesthetically pleasing.

According to Mr Plant Geek, the Sanguisorba hakusanensis ‘lilac squirrel’ is versatile and can be incorporated within a traditional cottage-style garden, or a modern green space.

He also advised planting it in a container, alongside another plant with bold foliage.

The plant thrives in sun or part shade, “and it’s relatively unfussy about soil – it’s a relaxed, carefree perennial,” added Mr Plant Geek.

There are various varieties in the Sanguisorba family, but Mr Plant Geek said the ‘lilac squirrel’ featured some of the biggest plumes.

Echinacea ‘pretty parasols’

Another perennial, which has proven popular this year, is an Echinacea ‘pretty parasols.’

The plant is often used in medicine and is good for prairie planting – which means grassland – so it requires low maintenance.

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“It has these gorgeous cone flowers, but its petals are not like your standard Echinacea cone flowers – they’re long and hanging, almost like a spider, and they’re half pink and ivory,” explained Mr Plant Geek. Its ideal conditions consist of well-drained soil in a sunny position.

Ipomoea lobata(or Mina lobata)

For an unusual summer climber which offers vibrant foliage, Mr Plant Geek recommends the Ipomoea lobata, or Mina lobata, which is also known as the Spanish Flag.

“The flowers are ombre, with yellow, white and red – almost like the colours of the Spanish flag. The foliage is beautiful and it has a ruby red tinge to it.”

The climber is ideal for providing screening in a garden or grown on an obelisk, which is a tall structure in the shape of a pyramid.

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Senecio ‘Angel Wings’

A Senecio ‘Angel Wings’ features large silver leaves, which have a velvety texture.

It is grown as a foliage plant and is ideal for containers. While being drought resistant, it’s also robust and hardy, so has a good chance of returning to the garden each year.

“It’s very tactile and it’s got this gorgeous bright colour of silver. At night it almost glows in the dark – it has this vibrance to it,” explained Mr Plant Geek, adding: “To have a flush of pure silver is just incredible.”

Eucalyptus Azura

For those wondering which small tree would suit their garden, Mr Plant Geek suggested a Eucalyptus Azura, which he said “behaves more like a shrub than a difficult to manage eucalyptus,” and grows around two to three metres tall – so does not require a great deal of maintenance.

Xpetchoa

Advising on a hybrid which offers good qualities, Mr Plant Geek recommended a Xpetchoa. The plant is a cross between a petunia and a calibrachoa.

While being sturdy in different types of weather, the plant is also easy to deadhead. 

“The blooms are slightly smaller, and textured differently – not sticky like a traditional petunia, so it won’t rot after the rain,” said Mr Plant Geek.

Praising the colour variety, he added: “You get a lovely cappuccino colour, you get caramel, you have terracotta, strawberry milkshake – they’re incredible, they’re in a class of their own.”

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