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 at The Watch House 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 information about each plant. Initials after each entry indicate the source of the plant, where I can recall it. See end for key.
In the beginning all my trees were evergreen. I missed the seasonal variations one gets with deciduous trees so have introduced more as time has gone on. With extremely limited space I look for those that are columnar, or appreciate coppicing, stooling or pollarding.
- 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
- 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, including tillandsia (airplants), neoregelia (bromeliads) and phalaenopsis (butterfly orchids). AP
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Magnolia grandiflora ‘Exmouth’ – grandiflora magnolias are aristocratic trees, usually seen trained against a wall in the UK. In the USA they are more commonly grown as free-standing specimens. Dark green, laurel-like, evergreen foliage with a rust-coloured felty reverse. This variety produces enormous, bowl-shaped, ivory blooms during the summer months, from an early age. Prefers a warm, sheltered spot.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- Drimys granadensis – I’m a sucker for a drimys. This species has apple-green leaves with a white reverse. NL
- Olea europaea – European olive – BGC
- Acacia verticillata ‘Riverine Form’ – TX
- Agapetes serpens ‘Red Elf’ – CC
- Aralia dasyphylla – ED
- Brugmansia ‘Grand Marnier’
- Brugmansia ‘Frosted Pink’ – EEP
- Buddleja speciosissima – NL
- Buddleja x weyeriana ‘Moonlight’ – LPN
- Camellia japonica ‘Margaret Davis’ – Purchased as a gift for The Beau, a man who appreciates striped and splashed flowers. Formal, double, white flowers with a pink, picotee edge. Every bloom looks good enough to eat – BGC
- Camellia ‘Nuzio’s Pearl’ – BGC
- Cestrum fasciculatum ‘Newellii’ – MH
- Colquhounia coccinea – RHSR
- 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.
- Eremophila nivea– BGC
- Erythrina crista-galli (Christ’s tears, cockspur coral tree) – CC
- Fatsia japonica. – BGC
- Fatshedera lizei ‘Variegata’ – SS
- Fuchsia boliviana ‘Carriere’ – HE
- Fuchsia procumbens
- Fuchsia ‘Coachman’
- Fuchsia ‘Lady Boothby’
- Fuchsia ‘Lechlade Marchioness’
- Fuchsia ‘Rosemary Higham’
- Fuchsia ‘Thalia’
- Ginkgo biloba ‘Mariken’
- Hydrangea villosa ‘Hot Chocolate’ – BGC
- Hydrangea ‘Merveille Sanguine’ – BGC
- Ozothamnus rosmarinifolius
- Paeonia ‘Sonoma Velvet Ruby’ (Itoh Hybrid) – BGC
- 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.
- Prostanthera ‘Poorinda Ballerina’
- Pseudopanax crassifolius F. trifoliatus
- Pseudopanax ‘Tuatara’
- Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ – BGC
- Sinocalycanthus x raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’ (sweetshrub) – BGC
- Sparmannia africana ‘Flore Pleno’ (African hemp) – HE
- Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex’ – GD
- Vasconcellea pubescens (mountain papaya) – MC
- Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’(Lady Banks’ rose, above).
- Holboellia latifolia– rampant climber with fragrant, waxy flowers in spring and unusual aubergine-shaped fruits in autumn.
- 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.
- Passiflora ‘Snow Queen’ PBR – ED
- Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’
- Clematis ‘Forever Friends’
- Clematis ‘Happy Anniversary’ – large, cheerful, mauve-blue flowers in summer.
- Clematis ‘Wada’s Primrose’
- Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’
- Clematis ‘Fuji-musume’
- Clematis ‘Princess Diana’
- Clematis ‘Sweet Summer Love’
- Clematis ‘Margaret Hunt’
- Clematis ‘John Huxtable’
- Ipomoea indica
- Lophospermum ‘Magic Dragon’
- Rosa ‘Dublin Bay’
- 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.
- Amsonia tabernaemontana var. salicifolia
- 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.
- 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.
- Begonia grandis ssp. sinensis ‘Snowpop’
- Begonia grandis ssp. evansiana
- Begonia josephii
- Begonia panchtharensis
- Begonia ‘Benitochiba’
- Begonia ‘Little Brother Montgomery’
- Begonia ‘Firewings Orange’
- Begonia boliviensis ‘Bossanova White’
- Begonia luxurians
- Begonia ‘Glowing Embers’
- Beschorneria yuccoides – looks 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!
- Calceolaria integrifolia ‘Kentish Hero’
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 – SS
- 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.
- 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.
- Impatiens apiculata – FY
- Impatiens balansae – HE
- Impatiens tinctoria – HE
- Impatiens flanaganae – SS
- Impatiens kilimanjari x pseudoviola white-flowered form – SP
- Impatiens kilimanjari x pseudoviola dark-pink, low-growing form – FY
- Impatiens niamniamensis – DN
- Impatiens niamniamensis ‘Variegata’ – DN
- Impatiens omeiana ‘Ice Storm’
- Impatiens stenantha
- Pelargonium papilionaceum
- Persicaria alpina – GD
- Persicaria virginiana ‘Painter’s Palette’ – TX
- Persicaria runcinata ‘Purple Fantasy’
- Salvia greggii ‘Royal Bumble’
- Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
- Salvia ‘Amistad’
- Salvia oxyphora
- Salvia involucrata ‘Bethelii’
- Salvia x jamensis ‘Hot Lips’
- 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 – SC
- 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 – MD
- 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.
- Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Flamingo’
- Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Kiwi Blush’
- Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Pershore Fantasia’ – FY
- Zantedeschia ‘Hercules’ – D2G
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.
- Lilium regale ‘Album’
- Lilium ‘Forever Susan’
- Lilium ‘Whistler’
- Lilium ‘Lionheart’
- Lilium ‘Mapira’
- Lilium ‘Nymph’
- Lilium ‘Kaveri’
- Lilium ‘Miss Feya’
- Lilium ‘Night Flyer’
- Lilium ‘Yellow Bruse’
- Lilium ‘Strawberry Event’
- Lilium ‘Corsage’
- Lilium ‘Pearl White’
- Lilium martagon ‘Arabian Night’
- 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!
- 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.
- Lilium ‘Pink Flavour’ – a splendid, mahogany pink Asiatic lily which flowers in late June. Stocky enough to work well in a pot.
Zingibers, Cannas and Bananas
- Alpina zerumbet ‘Variegata’
- Canna musifolia ‘Grande’
- Canna ‘Tropicana’
- Canna ‘Stuttgart’
- Canna ‘Carmen’
- Canna iridiflora (x ehemanii) – the queen of cannas, with carmine flowers drooping from tall stems.
- 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.
- Ensete montbeliardii
- Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’
- Hedychium ‘Sorung’
- Hedychium ‘Helen Dillon’. GD
- Hedychium ‘Anne Bishop’
- Hedychium ‘Tara’
- Hedychium maximum
- Hedychium ‘Pradhan’
- Hedychium gardnerianum
- Hedychium greenii
- Hedychium ‘Luna Moth’
- Hedychium ‘Dr Moy’
- Hedychium ‘Gold Spot’
- Hedychium yunannense
- Hedychium ‘Verity’
- Musa sp. Tibet
- Musa sikkimensis ‘Red Tiger’
- Musella lasiocarpa (golden lotus banana)
- Roscoea auriculata
- Roscoea ‘Harvington Imperial’. TN
- Roscoea ‘Harvington Royale’. TN
- Roscoea ‘McBeath’s Pink’. TN
- Roscoea ‘Red Gurkha’. TN
- Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’
- Colocasia ‘White Lava’
- Colocasia jenningsii
- Dahlia ‘American Dawn’ – a stunning decorative dahlia which form a strong plant. The flowers are a combination of grape, apricot and raspberry – quite delicious!
- 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.
- Dahlia ‘Labyrinth’
- Dahlia ‘Bacardi’
- Dahlia ‘Nicholas’
- Dahlia tenuicaulis
- Dahlia excelsa
- Dahlia campanulata
- Dahlia ‘Magenta Star’
- Dahlia ‘Akita’
- Dahlia ‘Blue Bayou’
- Dahlia ‘Ragged Robin’
- Dahlia ‘Walzing Mathilda’https://atomic-temporary-36920974.wpcomstaging.com/2018/08/13/plant-profile-dahlia-nicholas/
- Dahlia ‘Verrone’s Obsidian’
- Dahlia ‘Honka Fragile’
- Dahlia ‘Lake Tahoe’
Epiphytes in ‘The Tree of Life’
- Tillandsia aeranthos – CP
- Tillandsia aeranthos ‘Bronze’ – CP
- Tillandsia bergeri – CP
- Tillandsia albida – CP
- Tillandsia schiediana – CP
- Neoregelia ‘Fireball’ – CP
- Neoregelia schultessiana ‘Variegata’ – CP
- Neoregelia ‘Atlantis’ – CP
- Neoregelia ‘Kahala Dawn’
- Neoregelia ‘Piemento’
- Neoregelia ‘Treasure Chest’
- Phalaenopsis – various
- Hibiscus ‘Mahogany Splendor’
- Petunia ‘Black Velvet’
- Solenostemon ‘Burgundy Wedding Veil’
- Solenostemon ‘Henna’
- Solenostemon ‘Lord Falmouth’
- Solenostemon ‘Peter’s Wonder’
- Solenostemon ‘Pink Chaos’
- Solenostemon ‘Red Head’
- Aeonium ‘Blushing Beauty’
- Aeonium ‘Ice Warrior’ – SS
- Aeonium ‘Kiwi’
- Aeonium ‘Velour’
- Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’
- Agave univittata – SS
- Agave univittata ‘Quadricolor’ – SS
- Aloe arborescens
- Aloe arborescens f. variegata – SS – Fondly known as Otto the Octopus
- Aloe polyphylla – SS
- Dyckia leptostachya – Gift
- Echeveria agavoides ‘Ebony’ – SS
- Cyrtomium macrophyllum var. tukusicola – FX
- Cyrtomium falcatum (Chinese holly fern)
- Polystichum setiferum ‘Divisilobum’
Coming soon …….
Key to Sources
- 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, Penzance
- BN – Burncoose Nursery, Gwennap, Cornwall
- SR – Sarah Raven
- DN – Dibley’s Nurseries, Wales
- 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, Hampshire
- CC – Cross Common Nursery, Lizard, Cornwall
- TX – Trevenna Cross Nursery, Cornwall
- DU – Duchy Nursery, Cornwall
- D2G – Desert to Jungle, Taunton
- SS – The Salutation, Sandwich
- FY – Farmyard Nurseries, Wales
- EEP – Exotic Earth Plants, Chudleigh, Devon
- MH – Marwood Hill Gardens
- FX – Fernatix
- MC – Mike Clifford
- MD – Madrona Nursery
12 comments On "Plant List"
Thank you for your article. Hoping to add to our coastal Irish garden this year and enjoyed reading your blog, got plenty of inspiration. Happy gardening. Clare.
Good news Clare! I expect you have a lovely mild climate there on the Irish coast? So many possibilities. Enjoy exploring them. Dan
HI Dan, First of all thank you for your keen post on Crinodendron. My search led me here to your wonderful site. Now I’m salivating over your plant list and responding with, “What the heck is that?” This will be so fun to investigate your plant treasures and learn about flora seemingly well suited to my corner of the world, the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Thank you for sharing your love of gardening, plants and community.
Hi. Love your website, I’m so glad I found it. Great advice about Hedychiums, I’ve had mine for 6 years and it’s only flowered once. I wonder what I’m doing wrong. It’s potted, watered daily and fed too. I reported it at the start of last year with rotted manure added but still nothing. I’ve read in different sites about what position they are best in. Some say sun, some dappled and some just morning and evening. It’s currently on the other side of a south facing wall, so in the shadow of the wall. It’s also been outside all winter and the leaves and stalks are still fine and green, standing about a meter tall. Any ideas? Thanks very much. James.
Needed to compose you a very little word to thank you yet again regarding the nice suggestions you’ve contributed here.
We recently gave our garden a little bit of care. We moved in and the previous owners hadn’t touched it in years. We spent the majority of lockdown outside, with the help of Croft Environmental though when it came to our new gates and fences. I’m sure where you’re based but I highly recommend them. Here’s there website https://www.croftenvironmental.co.uk/croft-environmental-fencing/.
I was just wondering if you had a few suggestions on plants that would work well growing up a wooden fence.Im always open to some new ideas, do love a bright flower though! Thank you.
Have just found your wonderful site. Today I have received 3 Hedychium Gardnerianum rhizomes from Farmer Gracy plus 2 Caladium and 1 Colocasia bulbs – may be a bit optimistic for a south Manchester garden but I’m hoping👍
Very little planting info received from supplier but your site has answered all my questions. Am planning on putting 2 hedychiums in pots and trying the 3rd in the border now I’m clear about requirements. Am sure I’ll be returning here frequently throughout the coming months. Many thanks for such detailed information.
It seems like the entire U.K. population received their Farmer Gracy order today Sue! Mine came too. Caladiums and colocasias need a decent amount of heat to get the going and can’t go outside until June, provided it’s warm. Our Hedychium gardnerianum survived snow and frost in a pot outside this winter so just take care and provide a nice mulch over winter. Good luck and be patient. They can take a while to wake up.
That’s reassuring – many thanks.
I’m really loving your website. What is the name of the purple plant in the picture under “ferns”? Thank you, Greta
Hi Greta. That is Tradescantia ‘Purple Sabre’ also sold as Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Heart’ and Tradescantia pallida ‘Purpurea’. It’s extremely easy to propagate so find yourself a cutting from somewhere and you’ll soon have enough to give away to your friends.
Meanwhile, delighted you’re enjoying the website. Thanks for popping by. Dan