Favour fuchsias? Try this creative planting combination
In the seasonal gardener, Anna Pavord recommends this long-flowering shrub as one of her stars of summer
In The Seasonal Garden: Creative Planting Combinations, the award-winning British author and gardener Anna Pavord, picks out sixty of the best, most beautiful and most reliable plants, and chooses a couple of companion species to plant alongside these star choices.
The selection is arranged in seasonal order, and features plenty of herbaceous plants, annuals and bulbs. However, there aren’t many shrubs in the book, in part because the title is an update of an earlier work of hers, in which she chose not to include these medium-sized bushy plants.
Fortunately, in The Seasonal Gardener, Pavord has allowed herself a little more editorial freedom. “This edition includes some of the superb shrubs that have gradually become the focus of my own gardening style over the last couple of decades,” she writes. “How, I think now, could I ever have lived without the scent of daphnes, or the magnificent foliage of a shrubby peony such as Paeonia delavayi? Shrubs add bulk and substance to a garden. They give their own dramatic performance in season, but they also provide a generous backdrop to other more ephemeral plants around them. In choosing twenty of my favourite shrubs to star in this book, form and foliage have been as much in my mind as flowers.”
Anna Pavord. photo courtesy Anna Pavord
Of course there are some flowering shrubs that are a match for any bulb or annual. Take for instance the fuchsia that Pavord selects as one of her star plants in the High Summer section of her book.
“Fuchsias are wonderfully long-flowering shrubs, excellent players in a late summer garden,” she writes. “Some varieties are wildly theatrical, pirouetting with many-skirted flowers in bright pinks and purples. Fuchsia magellanica is a species native to Chile and Argentina and has the loose grace typical of plants left as nature intended. Lax branches arch out from the base, bearing thin flowers of deep red that swing and sway on the stems. They will last until the first frosts.”
High Summer in Gravetye Manor, Sussex, UK. Photo by Claire Takacs
Experienced gardeners may know all this, but they might not know which plants to bed in alongside. Fortunately, Pavord has a couple of selections in mind. The first is a tallish salvia known as Indigo Spires, which will weave within the fuchsia beautifully. “This handsome hybrid between S. farinacea and S. longispicata arose in the Huntington Botanical Gardens in California,” writes Pavord. “The flowering spikes stand strongly upright, tapering gracefully to the tip.”
The second is Gladiolus communis subsp. Byzantinus, a magenta gladiolus which “will flower in early summer and set the tone for the fuchsia, which follows later in the season,” explains Pavord. “This wild gladiolus, a native of Spain and northwest Africa, is a world away from the top-heavy gladioli of the show bench. It grows like a herbaceous plant, self-supporting and strongly upright in growth.”
The Seasonal Gardener
For more on these selections as well as many other planting combinations order a copy of The Seasonal Gardener here.