Plant List

This is a comprehensive list of plants that reside in my two diminutive courtyard gardens. All will tolerate a certain amount of buffeting by salt-laden gales, but they are grown here in relatively sheltered conditions. The majority are cultivated in terracotta pots due to a lack of direct access to the soil. Some plants listed will not cope well with frost, so if you live further north in the UK check for hardiness in your area. Broadstairs falls into USDA hardiness zone 9a, whilst The Watch House would probably make it into zone 9b thanks to its unique microclimate.

Follow the links, where available, for more details about each plant. Initials after each entry indicate the source of the plant, where I can recall it. See end for key.

Phillyrea latifolia


In the beginning all my trees were evergreen. I missed the seasonal variations one gets with deciduous trees so have been introducing more as time goes on. With extremely limited space I look for those that are columnar, or appreciate coppicing or pollarding.

  1. Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. aspleniifolius (Santa Cruz ironwood) – splendid ferny foliage and netted, peeling, red bark. The birds love it for fashioning their nests, or rather they did. Flowers resembling a white achillea appeared for the first time in 2015. The tree reached 35ft before being felled by a storm on March 10th 2019. Now regrowing from the stump. Who knows what’s next? AP
  2. Phillyrea latifolia (Japanese green olive, above) – sculptural small tree with glossy evergreen leaves. Best allowed to develop itself into a pleasingly sculptured, cloud-like shape. Smooth fawn-coloured bark. Summer home for a burgeoning collection of epiphytes tillandsia (airplants) and neoregelia (bromeliads). AP
  3. Laurus nobilis ‘Angustifolia’(narrow-leaved bay) – much prettier than the common-or-garden bay and very tolerant of salty winds. Has now reached a decent height and always looks good. AP
  4. Pseudopanax chathamica (Chatham Island lancewood) – one of the oddest trees I’ve encountered. Leathery leaves and extremely slow growing. Insignificant flowers followed by black and green berries. Slightly damaged by the storm of March 10th 2019, but well on the road to recovery. AP
  5. Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey’ (Fig) – has to be given a severe chop every winter, but on good form. Likes plenty of water and a semi-restricted root-run. AP
  6. Liquidambar ‘Slender Silhouette’ (American sweetgum) – If you’ve ever hankered after the captivating autumn colour of a liquidambar, but thought you didn’t have enough space, here’s your answer. L. ‘Slender Silhouette’ goes up like a rocket, holding its branches in tight by its side. I grow it in an enormous pot and it thrives. These columnar trees would look stunning planted as an avenue, along a boundary or as a pair to frame a view. BG
  7. Magnolia ‘Daphne’ AGM – a very polite, yellow-flowered magnolia that’s ideally suited to pot culture. Flowers prolifically from a young age. Reminds me of visits to Shanghai where yellow-flowered magnolias are commonly grown as street trees. BG
  8. Catalpa bignonioides ‘Aurea’ (Golden Indian Bean Tree)An absolute must for its neon-yellow foliage which maintains its day-glo qualities all summer. Bigger and brighter leaves when coppiced or pollarded, either annually or biennially. Will flower and produce characteristic ‘bean’ pods from an early age. Makes a fine but short-lived tree if allowed to grow naturally. GD
  9. Catalpa x erubescens ‘Purpurea’ (Purple Indian Bean Tree) – Late in the spring from bare grey branches emerge trios of blackish-purple, almost metallic leaves, creating a brooding storm-cloud of foliage. Over the summer these fade to dark green with a chocolate tint, but not before clusters of white, orange-speckled flowers are produced. Can be coppiced or pollarded or allowed to create a modestly-sized tree.
  10. Eriobotrya deflexa – the bronze loquat from China and Vietnam is rarely seen in the UK owing to its dubious hardiness. For me it has survived two winters outdoors with most damage occuring in spring when thrips take a fancy to the new, copper-tinted shoots. Makes a beautiful tree when grown well. HE
  11. Entelea arborescens (Whau) – A fast growing tree from New Zealand which produces enormous, bright green leaves very similar in appearance to Sparmannia, to which it is related. Flowers are white, followed by spiky brown seed capsules. Like a damp spot where the solid does not dry out. Not reliably frost hardy, so best brought indoors for winter if possible. HE
  12. Drimys granadensis – I’m a sucker for a drimys. This species has apple-green leaves with a white reverse. NL
  13. Olea europaea – European olive.
Digitalis sceptrum, July 2013


  1. Aralia dasyphylla – ED
  2. Buddleja speciosissima – NL
  3. Buddleja – LPN
  4. Camellia ‘Nuzio’s Pearl’ – BGC
  5. Cestrum fasciculatum ‘Newellii’
  6. Colquhounia coccinea – RHSR
  7. Digitalis sceptrum(Isoplexis spectrum, above) – a wonderful fuzzy-leaved, orange-flowered foxglove from Madeira. Definitely not hardy in colder areas, but well worth the gamble elsewhere.
  8. Hydrangea villosa ‘Hot Chocolate’
  9. Ozothamnus rosmarinifolius
  10. Paeonia ‘Sonoma Velvet Ruby’ (Itoh Hybrid)
  11. Pittosporum tobira ‘Nanum’(Japanese pittosporum) – forms rolling hummocks of glossy, evergreen foliage. For the finest foliage colour grow in light shade. For white flowers grow in full sun.
  12. Pseudopanax
  13. Salvia ‘Hot Lips’
  14. Sinocalycanthus x raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’ (sweetshrub)
  15. Sparmannia africana ‘Flore Pleno’ (African hemp)
  16. Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex’

Rosa banksiae 'Lutea', April 2014


  1. Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’(Lady Banks’ rose, above).
  2. Holboellia latifolia– rampant climber with fragrant, waxy flowers in spring and unusual aubergine-shaped fruits in autumn.
  3. Trachelospermum jasminoides(Confederate jasmine) – allegedly unhappy on chalk soils, but not with us. Attractively evergreen and covered in showers of fragrant white flowers in July.
  4. Passiflora ‘Snow Queen’
  5. Clematis ‘Happy Anniversary’ – large, cheerful, mauve-blue flowers in summer.
  6. Clematis ‘Wada’s Primrose’
  7. Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’
  8. Clematis ‘Fuji-musume’
  9. Clematis ‘Princess Diana’



  1. Geranium maderense (Madeiran geranium) – one of our signature plants at The Watch House. A very special, very tender geranium which forms a trunk topped by wonderfully tropical-looking foliage and atomic clouds of pink flowers in April and May.  If in doubt, bring indoors over winter.
  2. Geranium palmatum – often confused with Geranium palmatum, but unforgivably so. Leaves are a similar shape but a paler green. Flower stems emerge and form a Catherine wheel of pink, rather than a dense cloud. Geranium palmatum is also significantly hardier and therefore longer lived.
  3. Agapanthus africanus(African lily, above) – another of our signature plants. Highly variable in colour, stature, hardiness and flower power, so best purchased from a reputable nursery. Evergreen and intolerant of ice and snow on its leaves, which can cause damage. Plants will regrow again in spring. Water April to September with tomato feed to encourage flowering.
  4. Echium pininana(tower of jewels) – A native of La Palma in the Canary Islands, but widely cultivated in milder parts of Britain and Ireland. Echiums are nothing short of showstopping, taking two or three years to build up sufficient head of steam to produce a 12ft spike of blue, mauve and pink flowers. These last from April until November and are irresistible to bees and butterflies.
  5. Echium wildpretti – A slightly shorter, scarlet version of the above. Forms a neat, attractive rosette of fine silvery leaves. New to us, so hardiness in East Kent is unproven. From Tenerife, Canary Islands.
  6. Zantedeschia aethiopica(Ethiopian lily) – requires little introduction. Retains its lush green leaves through the winter if the weather is mild, then produces gently fragrant white blooms in May and June.  Completely pest free in my experience.
  7. Beschorneria yuccoideslooks for all the world like a common-or-garden yucca for most of the year, but in a good season produces enormous, rather phallic red stems bearing red and green flowers. Very exotic, very tolerant of drought and frost, but snails find it delicious!
  8. Convolvulus sabatius (blue rock bindweed) – not at all like the dreaded white flowered type. Non invasive and non twining, it drapes its blue flowers over walls, steps and rockeries.
  9. Solanum laciniatum (Kangaroo Apple) – a tender plant often grown as an annual for tropical planting schemes.  Violet blue flowers followed by yellow and orange egg-shaped fruits.
  10. Astelia nervosa‘Westland’ (New Zealand Flax) a wonderful, small astelia with silver leaves burnished red. Likes a moist soil and bright position, although tolerant of light shade. Great in woodland plantings or as an accent.
  11. Asarum splendens (Chinese Wild Ginger) – a fabulous evergreen ground cover plant which tolerates  dry shade. Silvered, heart-shaped leaves look very similar to a cyclamen, but are evergreen in mild gardens.
  12. Spigelia marilandica (Indian Pink) – an exciting new addition to our garden. Hails from Missouri in the USA where it grows in moist woodlands and on stream banks. In our garden the red and acid yellow flowers look totally tropical. I can see this becoming a firm favourite.
  13. Polystichum setiferum ‘Divisilobum’
Lilium 'Golden Splendour', Summer 2012


I plant lilies all through the year from autumn until mid July. This ensures a succession of flowers, often filling the garden with intoxicating scent. Now I am on top of the dreaded scarlet lily beetle (this year I spotted and squished only 6) my only enemies are vine weevils and my own laziness when it comes to staking.

  1. Lilium regale ‘Album’
  2. Lilium ‘Forever Susan’
  3. Lilium ‘Whistler’
  4. Lilium ‘Lionheart’
  5. Lilium ‘Mapira’
  6. Lilium ‘Nymph’
  7. Lilium ‘Kaveri’
  8. Lilium ‘Miss Feya’
  9. Lilium ‘Night Flyer’
  10. Lilium ‘Yellow Bruse’
  11. Lilium ‘Strawberry Event’
  12. Lilium ‘Corsage’
  13. Lilium ‘Pearl White’
  14. Lilium martagon ‘Arabian Night’
  15. Lilium ‘Golden Splendour’ (above) – simplicity itself, this lily has pure, golden flowers with a wonderful spicy scent. It has made itself very much at home in our raised beds, so much so that I am loath to unsettle the clumps, even though they are now in the shade. The flower stems extend into the light, frequently coating hair and clothes with indelible pollen!
  16. Lilium ‘African Queen’they breed lilies big these days, but African Queen is stately without being out of proportion. The flowers have the grace and lustre you’d expect from a plant with such a regal name, accompanied by an exotic fragrance.
  17. Lilium ‘Pink Flavour’a splendid, mahogany pink Asiatic lily which flowers in late June. Stocky enough to work well in a pot.

Zingibers & Cannas

  1. Alpina zerumbet ‘Variegata’
  2. Canna musifolia ‘Grande’
  3. Canna ‘Tropicana’
  4. Canna ‘Stuttgart’
  5. Canna ‘Carmen’
  6. Canna iridiflora (x ehemanii) – the queen of cannas, with carmine flowers drooping from tall stems.
  7. Cautleya spicata – a complete trouper, related to the gingers. Will stay for years in a large pot, rewarding with yellow flowers emerging from deep red sheaths. Keep well watered and watch out for slugs and snails.Hedychium ‘Stephen’Apricot orange flowers are totally tropical but do not last long. Best appreciated for its arching stems of bright green foliage.
  8. Hedychium ‘Sorung’
  9. Hedychium ‘Helen Dillon’. GD
  10. Hedychium ‘Anne Bishop’
  11. Hedychium ‘Tara’
  12. Hedychium maximum
  13. Hedychium ‘Pradhan’
  14. Hedychium gardnerianum
  15. Hedychium greenii
  16. Hedychium ‘Luna Moth’
  17. Hedychium ‘Dr Moy’
  18. Hedychium ‘Gold Spot’
  19. Hedychium yunannense
  20. Hedychium ‘Verity’
  21. Roscoea auriculata
  22. Roscoea ‘Harvington Imperial’. TN
  23. Roscoea ‘Harvington Royale’. TN
  24. Roscoea ‘McBeath’s Pink’. TN
  25. Roscoea ‘Red Gurkha’. TN
  26. Eucomis bicolor. LCB


  1. Dahlia ‘American Dawn’ – a stunning decorative dahlia which form a strong plant. The flowers are a combination of grape, apricot and raspberry – quite delicious!
  2. Dahlia ‘Firepot’ – displaying all the colours of a summer sunset, Firepot is compact, floriferous and perfect for pot culture. Grow alongside other fiery colours, especially crocosmias.
  3. Dahlia ‘Labyrinth’
  4. Dahlia ‘Bacardi’
  5. Dahlia ‘Nicholas’
  6. Dahlia tenuicaulis
  7. Dahlia campanulata
  8. Dahlia ‘Magenta Star’
  9. Dahlia ‘Akita’
  10. Dahlia ‘Blue Bayou’
  11. Dahlia ‘Ragged Robin’
  12. Dahlia ‘Walzing Mathilda’
  13. Dahlia ‘Verrone’s Obsidian’
  14. Dahlia ‘Honka Fragile’
  15. Dahlia ‘Lake Tahoe’

Epiphytes in ‘The Tree of Life’

  1. Tillandsia aeranthos – CP
  2. Tillandsia aeranthos ‘Bronze’ – CP
  3. Tillandsia bergeri – CP
  4. Tillandsia albida – CP
  5. Tillandsia schiediana – CP
  6. Neoregelia ‘Fireball’ – CP
  7. Neoregelia schultessiana ‘Variegata’ – CP
  8. Neoregelia ‘Atlantis’ – CP
  9. Neoregelia ‘Kahala Dawn’
  10. Neoregelia ‘Piemento’
  11. Neoregelia ‘Treasure Chest’

Summer Visitors

  1. Begonia corallina – a beautiful begonia with flowers like flambuoyant earrings and a caning habit.
  2. Begonia ‘Firewings Orange’
  3. Begonia luxurians
  4. Begonia ‘Glowing Embers’
  5. Fuchsia ‘Orange Crush’
  6. Fuchsia ‘Dark Delicious’
  7. Fuchsia splendens
  8. Fuchsia ‘Space Shuttle’
  9. Fuchsia arborescens
  10. Rhodochiton atrosanguineus
  11. Mina lobata
  12. Ipomea indica
  13. Salvia patens
  14. Salvia corrugata
  15. Salvia ‘Hot Lips’
  16. Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’
  17. Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’


  • AP – Architectural Plants
  • HE – Hardy Exotics, Whitecross, Penzance, Cornwall
  • CP – Crafty Plants
  • JP – Jungle Seeds
  • BG – Broadstairs Garden Centre, Vere Road, Broadstairs
  • TN – Twelve Nunns
  • JP – J. Parkers
  • LCB – Living Colour Bulbs
  • SS – Surreal Succulents
  • BN – Burncoose Nursery, Gwennap, Cornwall
  • SR – Sarah Raven
  • DN – Dibley’s Nurseries
  • CM – Coton Manor Gardens
  • SC – Sissinghurst Castle (National Trust), Kent
  • GD – Great Dixter, Northiam, East Sussex
  • TC – Thorncroft Clematis
  • NL – Nicholas Lock Plants , Mevagissey, Cornwall
  • ED – Edrom Nursery
  • LP – Longstock Park Nursery
  • CC – Cross Common Nursery, Lizard, Cornwall
  • TX – Trevenna Cross Nursery, Cornwall