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There are some plants that are true showstoppers, whether their flowers, foliage, texture, or fragrance catch your attention. Introduce plants as focal points in your garden to create dynamic displays.

How to draw the eye

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In garden design terms, we tend to think of these as focal points; an area of the garden to which a visitor is automatically drawn due to its decorative nature.

For instance, evergreen Laurus nobilis (bay laurel) will offer green foliage all year round and, if you are feeling creative, you can look to create topiary using Buxus sempervirens (common box) which when close-clipped will form intricate shapes and sculptures.

So, here are ten of my favourite plants to use as focal points in the garden.

1. Araucaria araucana (monkey puzzle)

An evergreen conifer with interesting and instantly striking branches. It’ll start growing slowly at first, but once it’s established it can grow up to 25m height. Happy in full sun or partial shade in a sheltered spot where it will offer much architectural beauty.

  • Evergreen foliage
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows taller than 12m
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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2. Catalpa speciosa (bois chavanon)

This exotic flowering tree has clusters of white flowers that appear in summer. Happy in any moist but well-drained soil type, though it likes to be situated in sunny position that also provides some shelter. It is a deciduous tree so you’ll need to be handy with a rake or have a garden vac.

  • Deciduous foliage with flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows taller than 12m
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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3. Cornus kousa (kousa)

Next is a tree that’s sure to be a fantastic focal point in the garden with the white bracts and clusters of pink fruits that have a great impact in autumn. It is a small tree with bushy habit, growing to around 7m tall.

  • Flowers in summer and fruit in autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 8m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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4. Eucomis bicolor (two-coloured pineapple lily)

The flowers of this perennial are sure to put on a show in summer with the spikes of flowers that look like a pineapple. Not only are the flowers spectacular but the strap-shaped leaves are attractive, as well as the stem that has purple markings for extra interest.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy through most of the UK
  • Grows up to 50cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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5. Eucryphia glutinosa (brush bush)

The white flowers that bloom in summer contrast beautifully with the glossy, dark green leaves that turn fiery orange and red in autumn. They are a low maintenance pick for gardens of many styles, from city and courtyard spaces to cottage gardens.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy through most of the UK
  • Grows up to 8m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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6. Euphorbia characias subsp. Wulfenii (Mediterranean spurge)

Next is a sub-shrub that has grey-green leaves that have a really enchanting quality about them. In summer, green-yellow flowers bloom on large, rounded heads. The flowers are sure to catch your eye, but they’ll also appeal to pollinators too.

  • Evergreen foliage and flowers in spring
  • Hardy through most of the UK
  • Grows up to 1.5m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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7. Kniphofia caulescens (caulescent red-hot poker)

These evergreen perennials are a must-have as a focal point in the garden or to add height and interest to a border. The striking tall flowers bring fiery colour with the red and yellow display, growing to 1.5m tall.

  • Evergreen foliage and flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 1.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed
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8. Parrotia persica (persian ironwood)

In summer a display of green leaves give way to a mix of orange and red leaves in autumn. After the leaves have fallen away in winter, the branches reveal interestingly shaped patterns; flecked with peeling bark. In spring, the yellow foliage appears with red flowers.

  • Interest all year round and flowers in spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 8m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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9. Phormium (flax lily) ‘Sundowner’

These evergreen perennials have sword shaped leaves which fan out arching upward. Thanks to its structure, it offers a great contrast your other plants. The leaves are bronze and green coloured with red margins for a stunning effect.

  • Evergreen foliage
  • Hardy in coastal and relatively mild parts of the UK
  • Grows up to 1.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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10. Yucca filamentosa (needle palm)

This medium sized shrub is a great accent plant as a focal point for gravel gardens. They are tolerant of any well-drained soil, so if you have heavy clay soil, they will happily grow in a container. Preferring a sunny spot, this clump forming evergreen will produce a fan of green leaves all year round. If you’re lucky, nodding white flowers bloom in panicles in summer.

  • Evergreen foliage and flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 1m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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So, add something special to your garden by creating a focal point with plants that will catch your eye. With clever planting and contrasting flowers and foliage, you can create stunning designs that will ‘wow’ your guests.

Spring is here, see my post on spring pollinators:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

spring pollinators
Spring pollinators
Pinterest
Pinterest Board


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