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There are the classic perennials that are easy to find in garden centres to add colour to your garden. However, there are some gems that aren’t as commonly found. These are some of my favourite underused or uncommon perennials to add something special to your garden.

1. Dictamnus albus (dittany or burning bush)

First is a perennial that would look pretty in a cottage style garden. Not only are the flowers attractive, but bees will enjoy them too, and you can also enjoy the lemony fragrance of the foliage when it is brushed. The plant has many common names including burning bush or gas plant. This comes from it producing a flammable oil on hot evenings that can be lit by a match.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1.2m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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2. Baptisia australis (false indigo)

Growing to 1.2m tall, the grey-green foliage is joined by upright flower spires that are similar to those of lupins. The deep purple blooms are sure to add some depth to your beds and borders, or even indoors as cut flowers. So, for height on your banks and slopes, these plants will deliver.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1.2m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed
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3. Malva sylvestris (common mallow)

Next is an upright, semi-evergreen perennial with flowers through summer and autumn. This plant commonly grows in southern England, making it a great choice for wildflower meadows and wildlife gardens, especially if you are looking to create that unruly aesthetic.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 1.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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4. Eryngium bourgatii (Mediterranean sea holly)

Next is a perennial that is a wonderful choice for rock and gravel gardens and coastal spaces. The tall silver-grey foliage is topped with silver-blue bracts that have a real eye-catching quality. Not only will they add vivid colour, but texture to the space too. The steel-blue flowers look fantastic in cut flower arrangements as well.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 50cm tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed
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5. Veronica longifolia (garden speedwell)

The narrow leaves of garden speedwell are joined by upright purple-blue flower spikes. Keep the plant looking its best by cutting down when flowering has finished ready for bright blooms the following year.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1.2m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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6. Chelone obliqua (twisted shell flower)

This uncommon perennial originates in the USA. It’s an upright perennial with deep veined leaves and dense spikes of pink or purple flowers that grow to 2cm long. In addition, they grow in heavier soils, so can even brighten up a bog garden.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 1m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or poorly drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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7. Erodium manescavii (Manescau storksbill)

The purple flowers are attractive to bees and bloom from early summer through to autumn. Best grown in a sunny spot, this plant prefers an alkaline or neutral soil. Perfect for a gravel or rock garden, a well-drained gritty spot is a must.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 50cm tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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8. Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley)

Although it is a popular pick for bridal bouquets, I think they are underused in garden displays. Especially when they have so much to offer. The drooping white flowers are delicate looking, and have a beautiful fragrance too. The large elliptic leaves are deep green, contrasting beautifully with the blooms.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 50cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained or poorly-drained soil
  • Full shade or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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9. Aconitum carmichaelii (monk’s hood) ‘Arendsii’

The rich lavender blue flowers of monk’s hood grow atop tall, upright stems in autumn. What’s more, they’re great additions to the garden for flowers after summer to extend the season. Although, these plants are toxic if ingested, so be sure to take precautions by wearing gloves and not planting if there are curious little hands around.

  • Flowers in autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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10. Hylotelephium Herbstfreude Group (sedum)

Last, the succulent leaves are a popular characteristic of this sedum. Though the stars of the show are the tiny pink flowers that turn darker through the season. Together the flowers form broad, flattened clusters that bring a bold burst of colour.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1m tall
  • Well-drained
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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Spruce up your garden with underused or uncommon perennials that will set your garden aside from the rest. I’d love to see what you’ve chosen so let me know on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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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