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27 November 2014
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Bronze Flora Medal

Artemisia 'Valerie Finnis'
Artemisia ludoviciana 'Valerie Finnis'
Mugwort, Sagebrush, Wormwood

The parent species comes from the foothills of the Rockies, and Nebraska, and its offspring 'Valerie Finnis' is a valuable plant for a cool Mediterranean garden design. It has silver-grey leaves which are attractively serrated, and brownish- yellow flowers from the middle of summer to the autumn. Cuttings are best taken each spring. A good alternative is 'Silver Queen'. Both are a first-rate choice for a dry or gravel garden because they withstand long dry periods. The Royal Horticultural Society has given both plants its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Nerium oleander
Nerium oleander
Rose bay

The tender Mediterranean rose bay is a shrubby evergreen that's highly rated for its mix of flowers and leaves. The (typically) pink flowers ('Casablanca' is white, and 'Ruby Lace' red) appear over a long summer-autumn period, while the leathery leaves are thin and pointed. Stand outside over summer in a pot, but keep in a heated greenhouse/conservatory in winter, at about 10C. Water sparingly in winter, and give a late winter prune to maintain the plant's shape.

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.

Olea europea
Olea europaea

Attractive, slow-growing evergreen tree of Mediterranean origin. It forms an rounded head of small, silver-grey leaves and is tolerant of hot, dry conditions. The tiny creamy-white flowers, which are produced in summer are small and insignificant. These are followed by small, round green fruit that ripen to black. In the mediterranean they are cultivated widely for their fruits. In the Uk they are not fully hardy and require a warm, sheltered spot to thrive. Alternatively grow in a large pot and move into the shelter of a cool greenhouse over the winter months.

Phormium tenax Purpureum group
Phormium tenax Purpureum group
New Zealand flax

Phormiums are New Zealand evergreen plants, and a striking element in any hot border scheme. They make bold clumps of long, often gorgeously coloured, sword-shaped leaves, with tall, open flower-spikes on mature plants. The purpureum group is one of the best to grow producing elegant long leaves of deep purplish bronze. Phormiums can be damaged by cold winds and severe frosts in some areas of the country and will benefit from some protection.

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

Design inspiration

Linda Bush"I designed the Hasmead Sand and Ice Garden during the hose-pipe ban around Chelsea and the South East of England last year. The theme highlights the issue of climate change, and also looks at how gardeners in these areas can adapt to it by using more water-efficient plants.

"I was inspired by two of my favourite gardens - the dry garden at RHS Hyde Hall, and Beth Chatto's gravel garden. Plants used in these gardens have adapted to survive in areas of low rainfall, proving that gardeners and designers can work with nature, rather than against her."

Designer, Linda Bush

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