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27 November 2014
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Silver Flora Medal

Carpinus betulus
Carpinus betulus

Similar in appearance to beech, hornbeam makes a superb specimen tree or hedging plant. Grown as a tree, it has a pyramidal shape that later becomes more rounded. As a formal hedge it requires clipping once a year in mid- to late summer to keep it looking tidy. Although it is deciduous, it retains its coppery dead leaves throughout the winter so it remains an effective screen. Green catkins appear in spring and winged nuts develop in autumn.

Eucalyptus gunnii
Cider gum

Many eucalyptus species produce two kinds of foliage: the long sickle-shaped leaves of adult branches, and the lush rounded leaves distinctive of young shoots. They are naturally trees, sometimes reaching a great height, but in gardens regular firm annual pruning can keep them as large shrubs and maintain a supply of the juvenile foliage enjoyed by gardeners and flower arrangers. Only a few species are reliably hardy, and of these E. gunnii is the most popular. Cold winds are more injurious than frost, and plants are best grown in sunny sheltered spots. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Euphorbia griffithii 'Fireglow'
Euphorbia griffithii 'Fireglow'

A dramatic plant with attractive dark green foliage, each leaf with a reddish midrib, making plants striking all season. The plant itself is tall and bushy, with spreading rhizomatous roots, while the flowers are its glory, bright fiery brick red and fairly long-lasting. Plants are particularly good in hot schemes and dry sunny borders, but also combine well with yellow flowers and gold variegated foliage in the early summer border. Plants are fairly drought-tolerant and need little attention.

Echeveria elegans
Echeveria elegans
Mexican snowball

This clump-forming perennial with fleshy, succulent leaves can spread to create a carpet of foliage. Its key feature is its silver-blue foliage in rosettes and it makes a good alternative bedding plant. The yellow-tipped, pink flowers hang from the top of long stalks in summer. It grows in sunny spots in well-drained soil and needs to be kept dry in winter. Though it does not tolerate very low temperatures it can be hardy in some areas.

Stipa tenuissima
Stipa tenuissima
Feather grass

A neat, compact, perennial grass, this has lots of close-packed, stiff, thread-like stems forming a strongly horizontal shape about 60cm (2ft) tall. In summer, plants are covered with masses of elegant pale feathery seed-heads which are held a little above the foliage. These can be cut and dried when first opened for use in winter arrangements indoors. Alternatively they make a useful winter food source for finches and other seed-eating birds. Plants like a sunny well-drained spot and associate well with compact alstroemerias, rock plants and other grasses that enjoy similar growing conditions. To propagate, divide plants from mid-spring to early summer.

Play videoWatch a video tour and interview with the garden designer.

Design inspiration

Paula Ryan"The Garden for Human Rights celebrates Amnesty International's vision of a world in which every person is born free and equal in dignity and in rights. The garden therefore plays with the concepts of freedom and enclosure, darkness and light, using a variety of vertical and horizontal planes, sight lines and spaces.

"The planting includes clipped hornbeams and a border of multi-stemmed eucalyptus. In planters beneath the trees, prairie-style perennials in hot colours contrast with the glaucous colours of the eucalyptus and echeverias. The garden structures have a 'green roof' of sedums and a large shallow pool brings coolness and tranquility to this hard urban space."

Designer, Paula Ryan

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