How to - Gardening Basics

30 fail-safe garden picks

From statement-making annuals to shade-loving perennials, Frankie Flowers shares his garden-worthy picks

What merits a “Frankie’s Favourite?” Glad you asked. Visual interest (colour, shape), bloom period (longer is always better), level of maintenance (easy, please!) and garden performance (nothing invasive or drought intolerant). After digging for so many years, here’s a pruned-back catalogue of my top plants.

Statement-making annuals
Add thrill to any garden or container with bold annuals. Boasting interesting foliage and unique blooms, these five are at the top of my bag of tricks because they’re also so easy to care for.

My top 5

1. Tropicanna canna lily (Canna ‘Phasion’)

2. ‘Illustris’ Imperial Taro (Colocasia esculenta ‘Illustris’)

3. King Tut papyrus (Cyperus papyrus [Graceful Grasses Series] King Tut)

4. Red abyssinian banana tree (Ensete ventricosum)

5. ‘Rubrum’ purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’)

Star plant: Popularly called elephant ears, imperial taro is flowing with tropical form and offers incredible texture and contrast in a garden where dark foliage reigns.

Shade-loving annuals
From vivid impatiens to the fantastic fun foliage of Kong Series Coleus, these annuals will take centre stage in the shade with a sizzle of colour. Whether in the ground or in a pot, these annuals make dim places great visual spaces.

My top 5

6. Browallia bluebells (Browallia speciosa cvs.)

7. Dazzler Series Impatiens 

8. Kimberly Queen Ferns (Nephrolepis obliterata)

9. Kong Series Coleus (Solenostemon [Kong Series] cvs.)

10. Tuberous begonias

Star plant: With their huge, colourful leaves, Kong Series Coleus creates impact in the shade. But remember to keep them away from windy places.


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