I’m often asked what my favourite plant is. This is a difficult question to answer, as my response would be one plant one day, and then I’d change my mind completely the next. But, if I was allowed to choose two, then the answer is easy!
The first of these must-have plants is called Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’. It’s a clump forming perennial that will bring joy in double doses each year. The first performance is when it produces a haze of the prettiest forget-me-not like flowers in the spring.
When its delicate flowers have faded, you merely remove the stems to the base, and the plant then revs up for its second stunning encore. By cutting these flower stems, you are giving the plant the signal for its delicately variegated basal leaves to develop into a neat rounded clump – it’s follow-on glory moment
And the best news of all is that this plant will also do very well in a shady part of the garden. It’s extremely well-behaved and will not exceed 45cm (18in) in height and won’t spread any more than 60cm (24in) – so it will fit nicely into any small garden. At the end of the year, the leaves die back, but I know that as soon as the days begin to lengthen that it will be back again in all of its glory.
By sheer coincidence, the second of my must-have plants also has a blue flower, but this one doesn’t do its stuff until later in the year.
Ceratostigma wilmottianum is a small shrub, that will not grow higher than 1m (39in). I love this plant for the intense blue flowers that normally appear in late summer and early autumn. I say ‘normally’ as the weather has been so strange this year that all of my garden plants have started flowering far too early! But, just before it drops its leaves for the winter, the foliage turns red – another bonus.
This plant does extremely well in full sun, and it’s such a welcome sight after the summer perennials have gone past their best. I tend to leave the plant untouched until the following year before even thinking about doing any light pruning as I consider that its spikey seed heads are a feature worth keeping during winter.
Include either or both of these plants in your garden, and you’ll agree that I’m right!