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Looking for a low maintenance garden that still offers bags of colour? Then a gravel garden may be right for you.

Taking inspiration from Mediterranean countries that can have long spells of hot weather, a gravel garden can be bright, colourful, and easy to maintain with drought resistant plants. You can also include plants like Androsace carnea (pink rock jasmine) for pathways or Cordyline australis (cabbage palm) as a focal point.

When doing the hard-landscaping work, remember to put down some landscape fabric, as this will prevent weeds from growing.

Here are my choices for the 9 plants that will make your gravel garden a cut above the rest.

1. Agastache (giant hyssop) ‘Blackadder’

First is an upright perennial that loves to be surrounded by grasses or round headed flowers like dahlias. Plant in a sheltered position in full sun and protect if the temperature drops below -10 degrees. Then, they will flower in summer and autumn, growing to 60cm tall. When growing, they will be happy in any well-drained soil type.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy through most of the UK
  • Grows up to 1m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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2. Allium cernuum (lady’s leek)

This hardy herbaceous perennial will without a doubt brighten up your garden with its bell-shaped pink flower display. It’ll grow to 70cm in height in a sunny, but sheltered, spot. When planting the bulb, add grit to clay soil which will help with drainage.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 50cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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3. Anthemis tinctoria (dyer’s chamomile)

As a medium sized clump-forming perennial, it will give you green foliage year-round and then yellow daisy-like flowers in summer. It’s happy in either sheltered or exposed sites in full sun but not a fan of clay soils. These evergreen plants will appreciate a prune after flowering to encourage more basal growth that will overwinter.

  • Evergreen foliage and flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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4. Argemone mexicana (devil’s fig or prickly poppy) 

Sow these seeds in spring and you’ll be greeted with bright yellow flowers to enjoy throughout late summer into autumn too. What’s more, they are a self-seeding variety, so there’s no extra work with this plan. In fact, it’s even happy in poor soils. The common name comes from the prickly foliage, and the plant is also toxic when ingested so wear gloves to be safe.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 1m
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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5. Calamagrostis brachytricha (Korean feather reed grass)

Happy in full or partial sun in an exposed or sheltered spot, Calamagrostis will provide your gravel garden with background foliage. Green in spring, they bloom lilac flowers in summer and autumn with foliage taking on a yellow tinge in autumn. This versatile ornamental grass can be grown in containers as well as on banks and slopes.

  • Flowers in summer and autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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6. Verbena bonariensis (purple top)

Popular with pollinators, the clusters of purple flowers will add interest on top of upright stems in your gravel garden. Growing up to 2m in height, these plants will self-seed, so deadhead in autumn if you don’t want this to happen.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy through most of the UK
  • Grows up to 2.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Exposed or sheltered
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7. Chionodoxa forbesii (glory of the snow)

Plant the bulbs in groups in autumn and then in early spring you’ll be greeted with displays of blue flowers on slender stems. Growing to around 15cm in height, this perennial is a great way to begin springtime. Whether growing in a rock garden or naturalising under shrubs and trees, they’ll undoubtedly bring elegance to the space.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 15cm tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Exposed or sheltered
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8. Gentiana asclepiadea (willow gentian)

Suited to a sheltered spot in partial sun or shade, this is a clump-forming perennial that flowers in midsummer through to autumn. The deep blue-purple flowers are trumpet-shaped, that are well suited to other garden styles including cottage gardens. In addition, they prefer an acidic to neutral soil, so ensure your garden soil has the right nutrients for them to thrive.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 1m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Sheltered
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9. Potentilla thurberi (scarlet cinquefoil) ‘Monarch’s Velvet’

Last is a medium sized perennial that will add bright colour throughout a gravel garden. It’ll look striking when contrasting with spiky plants like Agastache. Another pick for pollinators, the deep pink flowers with a dark centre are very attractive to bees.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 50cm tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Exposed or sheltered
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So, add create a gravel garden with drought-tolerant plants that don’t compromise on colour or foliage. Then, through the year you can have a spectacle of flowers that pollinators can enjoy too.

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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