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28 October 2014
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Gold Medal

Rodgersia aesculifolia
Rodgersia aesculifolia

With 25cm long, bronze-tinted leaves like huge hands with brown veins, this Chinese perennial has great presence, and it's even more striking in midsummer. The clusters of creamy white to creamy pink flowers form loose pyramids on tall stems, and are beautiful. The seed-heads have a reddish tint in autumn. It makes a great show in a damp part of the border or bog garden where it can produce highly impressive clumps. It has been given the Award of Garden Merit by the RHS.

Hemerocallis 'Golden Chimes'
Hemerocallis 'Golden Chimes'

While the individual blooms of daylilies last just 24 hours, they are produced in such profusion that the plant is seldom without colour in early summer. 'Golden Chimes' is a well-loved variety that the Royal Horticultural Society has given it the Award of Garden Merit as a plant of outstanding excellence. It has graceful, star-shaped, deep yellow flowers with reddish brown backs and thrives in both full sun and partial shade.

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'

The basics species of this large bushy North American shrub has flowers that are a mixture of tiny fertile florets and the larger more showy sterile ones, which in fact have coloured bracts in place of petals. The variety 'Annabelle' has only sterile florets, which makes the flower heads much larger, like spectacular white balls up to 30cm (12in) across. Plants are nominally very hardy but late frosts can damage the buds, so grow them in a sheltered corner or against a warm wall in cold gardens. Regular pruning keeps the naturally open plants dense and compact. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Helen's flower
Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty'
Helen's flower

Heleniums have very characteristic flower shapes quite unlike those of other daisy flowers. The crimson red of 'Moerheim Beauty' is a very versatile colour, useful for both hot, orange-red planting schemes and with coppery pink. Try them with orange or yellow flowers of red-hot poker, solidago or other late daisy flowers, such as rudbeckias and heliopsis. Or in a pastel scheme with pink Japanese anemones, schizostylis and Michaelmas daisies. The flowers are good for cutting. Plants will not reach their final height until their second year. To restrict their size, cut back to about 30cm (1ft) tall in May. This not only reduces their final height but will also delay flowering by a week or two. To propagate, divide plants in spring. Dividing in autumn often fails as the small plants produced die during the winter.

Chocolate cosmos
Cosmos atrosanguineus
Chocolate cosmos

Formerly called Bidens atrosanguinea and comparatively unknown, this tender Mexican perennial is now a fashionable late summer highlight in warm borders, as much for its scent of vanilla and hot chocolate as for the dusky brownish-red blooms. As with most cosmos varieties, the blooms resemble small single dahlias, and its culture is similar too, for it has a tuber which, in mild gardens, may be planted at least 15cm (6in) deep and left in the ground with winter protection, or is more usually lifted in autumn for drying and storage.

Take a look at the winner of the BBC RHS People's Award 2007.

Design inspiration

Mike Harvey"This is a garden for after work. You can relax under the dappled shade of a group of silver birch, or entertain in the evening sun.

"A curved decked walkway leads you through the garden, taking you through lush surroundings of large-leaved plants in shades of green underneath nine birch trees. Loose groups of flowers dotted throughout creating a calm atmosphere. There is a circular lawn in which you can forget work and the stresses of modern day living.

"Leaving the silver birch you enter the sunshine. There is a raised deck, part enclosed with a brick wall. It's large enough to entertain and eat outside and surrounded by scented flowers it is the perfect place to have a drink with friends."

Designer, Mike Harvey

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