When it comes to the best garden plants every gardener should know about, who better to ask than professional gardeners?
We've spoken to experts in the field of gardening, who have shared their wisdom with us on the latest garden trends 2022 and their pick of the best plants for any garden. Big or small, sunny or shaded, this selection will ensure your garden is vision of beauty all year round.
Before you start researching the best places to buy plants online or head to your local garden nursery to browse, see our expert edit to inspire your choices. From colorful blooms and shrubs to scented trailing plants to delight the senses, there's a variety of plants in this list that will thrive in all environments, to suit every outdoor space and every type of gardener (although you might want to check out our gardening tips for beginners if you're just starting out!)
10 best garden plants for all plots
Our team of trusted garden designers reveal the best garden plants for any backyard, sharing insight into why they favor them so fondly and how you can grow and nurture them in your own garden.
1. 'Miscanthus Sinesis' grasses
Grasses are a key on-trend planting choice for gardens in 2022. Garden designer Alice Meacham recommends her favorite grass variety 'Miscanthus Sinesis Morning Light.'
Alice describes her choice as: "A tall ornamental grass that pairs beautifully with shrubs, providing a lovely contrast with its light green fine arching foliage which is followed by silvery flower plumes." On why she loves it so much, for any garden, she explains, "It is stunning when backlit by the sun, and the frosted seed heads provide winter interest. Great for a contemporary scheme."
This impressive grass trumps even the best garden party decorations, providing a stunning backdrop for all those summer soirees.
2. 'Fragaria Vesca' wild strawberries
"I use 'Fragaria Vesca', aka wild strawberries, in nearly every design I do," explains Tabi Jackson Gee, founder and designer at TJG Gardens. "They offer fantastic semi-evergreen ground cover, are very easy to grow in most conditions, have lovely dainty white or pink flowers and also offer food for wildlife and humans alike – what's not to love!
"When they're in plant pots they have a lovely habit of trailing over the side and are equally as happy filling in gaps in between other perennials and on the edge of borders.
"Soil health is so important and one way to keep yours in good condition is to make sure it's always covered with plants, even in winter, with plants like Fragaria Vesca or other evergreen ground cover species," Tabi advises. "When covered, soil and plant roots work together to sequester carbon, balance the nutrients in the soil and maintain a healthy soil structure."
3. Hydangea Paniculata ‘Limelight’
Hardy shrubs are key to any garden landscape, offering a lush green coverage with the potential for seasonal color. Alice Meacham recommends her favorite, the Hydangea Paniculata ‘Limelight’ and here's why: "Unfussy, adaptable shrub that delivers in its first year of planting" she explains. "Beautiful cone-shaped lime-white panicles that age to faded pink, at its peak in late summer."
Alice offers her professional advice on how gardeners can incorporate this shrub into their existing scheme: "Plant it with other mixed shrubs in a woodland border, or in a two-tone scheme with yew or box topiary. I often plant it with unlikely ‘grass’ companions such as Phormium and Miscanthus for a contemporary, deer-resistant garden."
For more hardy shrub choices, check out our guide on the best tough plants for your garden.
4. Climbing 'Muehlenbeckia Complexa'
Sharing a treasure for all gardeners Alice Meacham tells woman&home, "This hidden gem isn’t particularly well known, but is absolutely brilliant for covering up unsightly walls, slopes and terraces." A great all-rounder for all problem plots.
"It has tiny round leaves that look as though they have been sprinkled over the wiry stems. So very delicate, rather like a Maidenhair fern, and yet tough and robust enough two withstand bad weather and give a generous spread within a year or two. A perfect contrast with a broadleaved plant such as Hosta or Bergenia."
5. 'Luzula Nivea' evergreen
"My favorite plant every garden should have is Luzula Nivea," reveals garden designer Sarah Kay. "It's an evergreen grass with a really graceful form and between May and July shoots up frothy white flowers up to 60cm."
And on why she loves it so much, enough to recommend it as one of her best plants, Sarah says: "Luzula Nivea loves shade and partial shade," making it ideal for more problematic gardening plots, with limited light. "And it's really easy to propagate by splitting the root ball when it becomes too large to create new plants." It's a cost-effective plant to cover more ground at no extra cost, a winning quality for any gardener looking to save on budget.
If you're new to gardening and not sure how to look after your plants just yet, the Luzula Nivea is a good, easy-care option.
6. Agapanthus ‘Midnight Star’
"Agapanthus are a delight in almost any border setting," suggests garden designer Alice. "I plant them in contemporary schemes, where their big bold globes of blue are set off by the feathery texture of the grasses, but also in cottage garden schemes along with other summer flowering perennials, where they give a great shape contrast to spire-like flowers such as Liatris spicata."
7. 'Dicksonia antartica' fern
"If you’re looking for an architectural plant, this is one to make a statement," reveals Alice Meacham. "It has a beautiful stately umbrella-like canopy of fronds, which sits higher each year as the trunk grows."
Going on to explain: "Hardier than first thought, it adds a touch of the subtropical (hailing from New Zealand) to any garden. But be prepared wrap it up for winter if you live in a frost-prone site and cosset if your temps drop below -5."
8. Lonicera x Purpusii Honeysuckle
With a focus on gardens being good for the soul we speak to Michelle Brandon, an RHS award-winning landscape designer and qualified horticultural therapist to ask for her recommendations for incorporating an element of scented planting. Michelle's pick of the best plant to scent your garden is the highly popular Lonicera x Purpusii, a variety of Honeysuckle.
"This highly scented shrub comes into its own in the winter months, sweet fragrant flowers on bare stems from November onwards. Just when you need that boost the most," says Michelle. A perfect pick for anyone who loves the best floral fragrances.
9. 'Fatsia Japonica' evergreen
For an uplifting, feel-good plant, horticultural therapist Michelle suggests Fatsia Japonica. Explaining why she loves this evergreen plant so much she tells us: "Fatsia Japonica is a fab plant to grow close to the house, reflective lush green leaves that can be uplifting on the darkest of winter months and an amazing backdrop to complement perennials."
10. 'Hydrangea Semannii'
Take inspiration from some of the world's most beautiful gardens and incorporate climbing hydrangea into your garden. Hydrangea Semanii is a striking yet versatile shrub to consider.
"I wouldn’t do without this plant" reveals Alice. "It goes in all my schemes where we need to cover a dank wall. It’s as happy in shade as in sun, and unlike the other climbing Hydrangea ‘Petiolaris’ retains its large glossy green leaves all year round.
"With its clusters of greenish-white flowers in the summer, it gives a sub-tropical feel to an unloved space and best of all, it doesn’t need tying in."
Special thanks to the Society of Garden Designers, the professional association championing excellence in garden design, counting a wealth of leading garden and landscape designers among its growing members.
Tamara is a highly experienced homes and interiors journalist, with a career spanning 19 years. Now the Lifestyle Editor of womanandhome.com, she has spent the last 16 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, and it’s with these award-winning interiors teams that she gained a wealth of knowledge and honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing about every aspect of lifestyle and interiors.
With a keen eye for the latest interior trends, there's not a lot she doesn't know about home decor – whether it’s what colour we should be painting our living rooms next season, or if the latest 'must-have' buys are actually worth investing in.
A true homes and interiors expert, Tamara has served as an ambassador for leading interior brands on multiple occasions, including appearing on Matalan’s The Show and presenting at top interiors trend events such as the Autumn Fair and Spring Fair.
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