Gardening / Seek out super-tough plants

Cistus… one of many varieties and colours

WHATEVER the weather, life in the garden goes on as it has done for millennia.

We lose a few and, being optimists, we pull out the dead plants and replant.

Cedric Bryant.

After the last nine months, maybe we now realise – too late – that certain plants are unsuitable for our climate; yet, do we give up? No!

Don’t blame only the exotic or introduced plants as many native plants, if not from the right area or planted in the right place, will succumb to our weather extremes.

Always consider where plants originate from with a similar variable climate as ours, which means they have to be super tough. All of the plants listed here originate from the Mediterranean region and can be considered drought tolerant. In reality, the only true Mediterranean climate here is in the south-west of WA.

Even many of the most delicate plants originate in the toughest places in the world, such as tulips and daffodils from Iraq and Turkey.

In this column, I am listing plants, mainly exotic (introduced), that can be grown with confidence. I have also provided the country of origin to indicate their hardiness:

  • Although there are about 20 varieties of box hedging, Buxus sempervirens is possibly the toughest. Often referred to as English box, it was introduced into Britain by the Romans and makes a perfect small hedge bordering a rose garden or each side of an entrance path.
  • Convolvulus cneorum… suitable for ground cover or a low hedge.

    Cistus or Rock Rose (although no relation to roses) is mainly from Turkey. A popular variety is Cistus “Gallipoli Rose” with white flowers. Also check out Cistus “Sunset” with pink flowers set against soft grey foliage.
  • Lavender is one of the most popular plants in the world and there are hundreds of varieties, but the two most reliable and used for lavender oils for perfumes are Lavandula “Hidcote” and L. “Munstead”.
  • In the kitchen, Rosemary is essential. For cooking, Rosmarinus “Chef’s Choice” is the strongest with a low, compact growth. But for flowering it’s hard to beat R. “Blue Lagoon” (all regions) with deep-blue to purple flowers.
  • Also excellent for low hedges: Myrtus communis (Sardinia), Dianthus (all regions), winter flowering Iris unguicularis (Algeria) Phlomis (Israel) and Convolvulus cneorum.
  • Ground covers include carpet thyme or culinary thyme and Convolvulus sabitius (Morocco), growing to 50-80cm tall is superb with its bright blue flowers. Finally, bearded iris (Spain).

There are sufficient hardy plants listed here, when grown in groups of three to five, to fill a small garden and provide colour at different seasons and many with delightful fragrances.

 

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