We are asking our nurseryfolk for a few words about their personal favourite plants. This month it's enthusiastic plantsperson, Alison Farnsworth of Bridge Farm Plants.
I have lots of favourite plants: They change with the seasons, fading into the background as their season comes to an end, to allow other plants to take centre stage. The following are just a few of some of the more ‘unfashionable’ or rather less showy plants, that I wouldn’t want to be without.
Chamaenerion angustifolia ‘Alba’ – The white-flowered form of ‘Rosebay Willowherb’. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it! It is airy and transparent with spires of beautiful, pure white flowers set against apple-green foliage. It is easy to keep under control and doesn’t set seed. Its leaves are also the larval food of the elephant hawkmoth.
Chamaenerion angustifolia ‘Isobel’ – This has elegant pale pink spires of flowers with darker calyces in July and August and is smaller and more willowy than the white form. It does wander but not aggressively.
Hemerocallis ‘Daylight’ – This is my favourite Day Lily. I obtained it quite a few years ago when there was an East Midlands branch of Plant Heritage. It was on their Conservation List (a plant not in general circulation and that was sold by no more than three nurseries). It is a lovely bright lemon colour which really lights up the garden.
Ageratina ligustrina – An unusual evergreen shrub with shiny, privet-like dark green leaves and flat clusters of dainty white flowers in autumn. It is very attractive to butterflies and bees. Originating from Mexico and Costa Rica, it ideally needs a sheltered position to give its best. Our garden is open and exposed, we live in a frost pocket and wind tunnel (!) so as a young plant, I kept this in a pot and put it in a cold greenhouse over winter. A few years ago, I planted it in the garden where, with a couple of milder winters, it flourished. The last two winters have been very cold and I really didn’t expect it to see it again this year. Although nothing was alive above ground, amazingly it has regrown from the rootstock.
Kniphofia ‘Jade Green’ – the greenest ‘red hot’ poker which fades to creamy-lime. Introduced by Beth Chatto, a seedling from seed given to her by Cedric Morris. Cool and refined.
Alison and Bridge Farm Plants attend most Plant Hunters Fairs. We always find plants that are different and unusual on their stall.
Contact Alison and Jason at Bridge Farm Plants
Phone: 01773 742848 / 07812 350132
All text and images © Alison Farnsworth 2023 used by kind permission