Of course everyone will have their own very worthy contenders for this list and I have noticed that my favourites definitely change over time, but here are three plants which I come back to time and time again.

They each have something that fascinates me, that is unique and beautiful and they each bring a great deal to any garden design scheme.


The first is the humble Hellebores, commonly known as Christmas rose. I love this quite large family of evergreen perennials which actually belong to the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). These are winter flowering plants with cute flowers often in varying shades of white, green and pink. And they are increasing available in new hybrids with more purple tones.

They are a very useful family because they flower in winter and yet throughout the year they have beautifully shaped, serrated leaves.

They do best in dappled shade with well drained soil. And although they are a cottage garden favourite they also look stunning in a modern garden design.

Pennisetum alopecuroides

The second to make my list is Pennisetum alopecuroides (also Pennisetum rubrum) from a genus of grasses in the family poaceae. It hails from Asia and Australia and is commonly known as fountain grass.

Of recent years grasses have become increasingly popular particularly with contemporary garden designers like myself. I generally use them in large drifts of 10 to 20 plants.

I find that their soft, feathery plums add architectural interest and texture to a planting scheme. And children love to reach out and run the soft leaves through their hands.

Cornus Kousa

My final pick is Cornus Kousa, the Kousa dogwood. This striking small tree is definitely one of my all time favourites. It is a small, bushy deciduous tree that grows to about 8 to 12 metres tall. It is native to China, Japan and Korea.

Perhaps my favourite variety is Cornus Kousa var. Chinensis with its flamboyant white flower bracts, which are produced in June. It can also feature brightly coloured strawberry-like fruits which will follow in autumn after a hot summer.

This tree is often grown for its astonishing autumn colour, with its leaves turning a beautiful red/ orange colour.

This particular variety was introduced from China in 1910 and has been used regularly in the UK ever since.