Know your plant

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Visiting gardens is a great way to see plants growing well. Smaller gardens open for charity, such as through the National Gardens Scheme, can sometimes have some real gems and there’s very often a plant sales bench enabling you to try some unusual plants for yourself. The owners will often be on hand to tell you what they know of the plant, but having got your plant home it’s always a good idea to look up as much information about it as you can to make sure you choose the best place to plant it: “Right Plant, Right Place” really does pay off.

The same is true if you fall for a plant at the garden centre. Labels vary from simply giving the name to giving some information about the plant and its requirements. Even the latter will be very brief and generalised, and I would always try to find out more.

At one time books were the answer. For years I used my RHS Encyclopaedia together with other specialist books. Now I rarely use them and instead go online. Try to avoid non-UK sites as the information they give about hardiness will not be relevant. By far the best site I know for the range of plants included and the information given is Shoot ( If you become a member you can set up a list of all your plants, get care instructions e-mailed to you, etc.

Another good idea is to just look at “Images” of the plant on your search engine. This will give you a good feel for how it will look at different ages, times of year and ideas for plant associations. Images is particularly useful if the plant is a brand new cultivar, as it may not be listed yet on many sites but there will be bound to be at least a few photos of it.

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This post was written by Christine Whatley on August 13, 2015 9:37 am

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