Ger Heary of Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven shares his Top Picks

Ger Heary of Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven shares his top three picks, offering unique insights into the plants that hold a special place in his gardening repertoire.

Hydrangea arbo. Strong Annabelle

Hydrangeas seem to have recovered from a certain view of them as old-fashioned, which I’m delighted about. They’re extremely popular right now; not surprisingly as they are real show-stoppers in the garden with their enormous flower heads. My favourite variety is the ‘Strong Annabelle’, which has even bigger flower clusters than other varieties – they can reach 30cm across, like giant white balls.

The Strong Annabelle looks great in a wide, partly shady border (though it can also tolerate full sun), particularly when planted in groups or with other hydrangeas. It also works in a large container (it can grow up to 130cm in height). It needs regular pruning to keep it dense and compact.

Erysimum Bowles’s Mauve (Perennial Wallflower)

This variety of perennial wallflower gives great bang for your buck. Its abundant mauve flowers on tall spires are visible for months on end (trim flower stalks as they fade to encourage more blooms). It’s a lovely option for height and it succeeds on poor soil. Erysimum ‘Bowles’s’ Mauve’ likes moist but well-drained soil in sun or partial shade.

It’s a short-lived perennial, but is easily replaced with young plants raised from cuttings. With its purple flowers, it will come as no surprise that Erysimum ‘Bowles’s mauve’ attracts butterflies/moths and other pollinators.

Lavandula Angustifolia (English Lavender)

Lavender is a beautiful and aromatic perennial shrub that works well when mass planted as a border or hedge (it grows to 50cm high and 50cm spread). In summer, you are treated to dense spikes of fragrant, purple flowers (which the pollinators love) atop slender, aromatic, silvery-grey leaves.

There are several varieties of English lavender, such as Hidcote (deep purple-violet flowers and a more dense growing habit) and Munstead (blue-purple with a more shaggy appearance). English lavenders like full sun and can tolerate poor soil.