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27 November 2014
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Anthony Challis: The Well Garden

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Trochodendron araloides
Trochodendron araloides
Cartwheel tree

This is a terrific evergreen, woodland, multi-stemmed, tree/shrub from Japan and Korea. It has wide-spreading branches with tough, leathery, fresh green leaves radiating outwards like the spokes on a bicycle, and sulphur-green flowers. It's very slow-growing, but make sure it has plenty of space to fill out when mature, and that it's given a sheltered position from cold, flaying winds. Once planted, leave in position because it hates having its roots disturbed.

Lobelia cardinalis
Lobelia cardinalis
Cardinal flower

This species of Lobelia is a stately, upright plant, grown for both its purple-tinged foliage, most pronounced in the variety 'Queen Victoria' which has bold reddish-purple leaves, and brilliant red flowers, each 2.5cm (1in) across. These form tall spikes at the top of the plants from late summer into autumn. Although the plant itself is quite unlike bedding lobelia in appearance, the individual flowers have a similar shape, but are much bigger. This plant is rather short-lived, with plants usually lasting about three years. These may be propagated by division, cuttings or seed in spring. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Salvia nemorosa 'Ostfriesland'
Salvia nemorosa 'Ostfriesland'

Sometimes known as 'East Friesland', 'Ostfriesland' is a lovely variety of this clump-forming perennial, producing spikes of violet-blue from summer through to autumn. Grow it in well-drained soil in full sun. Protect plants from excessive winter wet and shelter from cold, drying winds. In colder gardens, it is well worth taking a few cuttings in late summer and early autumn to overwinter indoors. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it the Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Ligularia 'The Rocket'
'The Rocket'

Incredibly striking, this is one of the best ligularias, with large, bold, jagged leaves and late summer, yellow flowers set against jet black stems. A very tempting buy, but it needs riverbank conditions with wet summer soil or the leaves quickly collapse. Excellent near a natural pond or in a bog garden where it creates a show of vertical spires. It has been given the Award of Garden Merit by the RHS.

Rheum palmatum 'Ace of Hearts'
Rheum palmatum 'Ace of Hearts'

Rhubarbs aren't just for the kitchen, and many are great fun in borders. The big asset is their large leaves though their flowers, which appear on huge spikes, are also good eye-catchers. The advantage of 'Ace of Spades' is that it doesn't get that big - other kinds hit 2m and more - making it a good choice for a small garden. Its dark green leaves are roughly heart-shaped, and the tiny white flowers grow in a 1m-long vertical spray. The best site is on rich, damp ground which does not dry out in summer.

Design inspiration

Bronze Flora medalMonday's Hampton competition letter is 'H'
"My inspiration was to improve the quality of life of those confined to their homes in their later years. Above all I wanted to create a place of comfort and security as well as a link to the world outside. I focused on accessibility and places to relax, stimulating them with a combination of sensory and familiar plants and a feeling of nostalgia."

Anthony Challis - designer of The Well Garden

Discover which garden the public voted their favourite in this year's BBC RHS People's Award.

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