Growing reliable plants, tried and tested garden stalwarts, is a good way of ensuring gardening success, but it’s always worth making room for something a little bit more unusual and experimenting a bit. Trying something new each year might not always be a success, but more often than not you’ll discover something which becomes a garden favourite. It could mean growing a few exotic herbs, such as lemongrass and Chinese chives – they’re easier to grow than you might think – or you might look for an unusual vegetable or fruit you haven’t tried before.
Written by Nanna Stærmose
Edited by Louise Curley
There are lots of heritage fruit varieties that you won’t be able to buy at the supermarket, particularly apples and pears; many of these have regional connections, for instance the apples Cornish Gillyflower and Yorkshire Greening. There are also plants such as damsons, a relative of the plum; quince and medlar, which used to be more widespread.
Young chilli and tomato plants
There are hundreds of different tomato plants, including ones with yellow, orange and black fruit, so try something different alongside your favourites.
Think about ornamental plants too. Flowering currants are a popular spring-blooming shrub and the pink or red-flowered cultivars are generally the ones you’ll find at the garden centre, but dig a bit deeper and you’ll discover several white-flowered ones and the very lovely peachy-coloured Ribes x beatonii.
Neillia affins is rarely grown in Britain, but it has a lot to offer including arching branches; attractive, deeply cut foliage; red stems and clusters of pink flowers in summer. It also has the added bonus of fabulous autumn foliage colour, when the leaves turn shades of red.
We’re lucky in Britain to have a host of specialist plant nurseries which focus on growing plants you won’t come across at a garden centre. They also have the knowledge on how to grow these plants and will be able to advise what you need to do to succeed when introducing them to your own garden.
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