At Langthorns plantery we genuinely have a real love and passion for plants, and wanted to share some of our personal favourites with you.
Jill Devon - Section manager for shade-loving herbaceous plants, conservatory and tender plants.
I adore this lovely little spreading groundcover which has whorls of fresh bright green leaves perfect for planting under trees (but not in borders as it grows like mad). In late spring it produces small white starry flowers, and the whole plant smells like new mown hay. It has been cultivated since the fifteenth century when it was used to sweetly scent houses and clothes, and to flavour summer drinks, and I love the idea of keeping that tradition going. It’s a very tolerant plant (it needs to be with me!) and will take any amount of cutting after which it will soon show bright fresh growth again.
Over the years I have begged and bought more or less every available cultivar of sweet violet, but these are my new favourites. They are fully hardy, do not like full sun and are more or less evergreen with the prettiest flowers in the spring (sometimes with the occasional flower all year long) held on long stems which can be picked, and best of all they are very fragrant. Yet even when there are no flowers the leaves themselves are perfumed and on a warm day the scent is delicious and evocative.
This rather special and beautiful woodland plant is a native of Japan and is unusual in flowering very late. It is very tall and likes deep, moist but well drained soil, and does not like full sun when its leaves will scorch. When the flowers eventually show (around late August/September) they are lovely buttery yellow bells arching over their anemone-like foliage. This is a lovely plant for the back of a border and should be grown more.
Another native of East Asia, this quiet and unassuming shade-loving plant has lovely dark green maple-like leaves that turn red in the autumn, and has a bonus of neat sprays of pretty cream flowers in spring. A lovely and unusual ground cover plant that provides attractive foliage with texture, perfect for setting off more showy stars.
Another lovely ground cover for shade this barrenwort has delicate fresh foliage tinted red in the spring (and again in the autumn) and dainty flowers of soft orange and pale yellow looking like miniature narcissi. It’s perfect for picking and is evergreen, although I try to cut down the foliage in late winter when it’s looking a bit drab so that the lovely new leaves and flowers can be seen. It’s very easy to grow (although sometimes takes a while to establish) and I’ve been told is deer resistant!
Moving away from my shady domain into full sun I think this Michaelmas daisy is eye-popping gorgeous! It’s just what I need to brighten the late summer border with masses of brightest pink daisy flowers, and being a New England Aster remains healthy and mildew-free. It’s tall and semi-woody with long lasting flowers and just gets bigger and better each year. All these asters are now renamed Symphyotrichum but thankfully you can still find them under their original name at Langthorns.
Macleaya microcarpa Kelways Coral Plume – Plume Poppy
I think this is my all-time favourite plant, and for some reason it hasn’t got the adulation it deserves (ok it is a bit invasive). It grows very tall with sprays of tiny coral coloured flowers but it’s the leaves that are the thing. They are deeply scalloped and glaucous greeny grey, with a tint to them that looks marvellous when seen against the sun. I think one of the reasons for this strange colouring is the sap of the plant which is a very strong deep yellow and in the right conditions makes the plant glow! So although it would be logical to plant at the back of a border as it’s so tall I think it needs to be placed where the light shines through it.
** This page is currently under development, so please come back and visit soon for more of our favourites.