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Flowers for hot, dry gardens


Inspired by the cool good looks of Lambley’s hot, dry gardens, here are our pick of the best drought-tolerant perennials for uncompromisingly tough climates. 

They come from all over the world and offer the gardener a range of textures and explosions of colour, while requiring little effort in return. 

Plant them in autumn and expect the show to start in late spring.


Seabreeze seaside daisy

Plant name: Erigeron glaucus ‘Seabreeze’

Description: a new and stunning form of seaside daisy that would have Edna Walling swooning at its huge, 4cm-wide flowers pertly displayed, en-masse.

Size: 40cm x 40cm

Special comments: an excellent carpet of colour in any sunny spot and tolerant of salt-laden winds too. 


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Plant name: Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’

Description: this is a catmint with more than nine lives especially in very dry gardens. Its soft grey foliage is covered with a dense mass of blue flower spikes that return repeatedly if the plant is pruned heavily in late summer and again in late autumn or winter.

Size: 50cm x 50cm

Special comments: work this little edging plant hard and it will reward you with six months display. 

Photo - Garden World Images 

Salvia nemorosa

Plant name: Salvia nemorosa ssp Tesquicola

Description: the deep violet-blue flowers have lilac bracts intensifying the colour.

Size: 80cm x 80cm

Special comments: appreciates deadheading after each flush and a hard prune after 12 weeks of flowering. If this is done in late spring it will repeat bloom in summer and autumn. It prefers full sun. Look out for the white form called ‘Snow Hills’.


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Plant name: Dianthus hybrids

Description: Lambley has nearly 50 varieties of these dwarf carnations in the display beds making it impossible to select just one. They are all drought-hardy and repeat-flowering and most are sweetly perfumed. Pinks flower throughout spring on showy, grey-leaved mounds.

Size: 30cm x 30cm

Special comments: ideal for edging, growing in baskets and pots, the quintessential cottage garden plant 


Photo - Garden World Images


Jerusalem sage

Plant name: Phlomis russeliana

Description: the ornamental sage in the rear of this shot is a long-time favourite of ours and was growing in our original home garden forty years ago. Its leaves are grey and felted and the 1m tall stems are covered in whorls of unusual yellow flowers. It will flower in sun or shade.

Size: 1m x 1m

Special comments: there are several species with lilac flowers including Phlomis tuberosa. 



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Lisbon false-sun rose

Plant name: Halimium lasianthum ‘Formosum’

Description: this little-known stunner is a tough performer for hot embankments and garden beds where its evergreen grey foliage is covered in spring and summer with masses of golden yellow flowers with each petal bearing a brown patch.

Size: 50cm x 1.5m wide.

Special comments: don’t be afraid to shear it back after flowering. 


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Plant name: Achillea ‘Walter Funke’ and A. clypeolata

Description: these are just two of the many types of yarrow dry garden should grow. Unnamed seedlings in nurseries are not as good as the named hardy perennials.

Size: 60cm x 40cm

Special comments: both clumping forms are tough sun lovers that appreciate being lifted and divided every two years. 


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Plant name: Euphorbia wulfenii ‘Ascot Gnome’

Description: this is one the most luminous green flowering euphorbias. There are many equally appealing spurges all with excellent drought-hardy qualities.

Size: 1m x 1m

Special comments: cut them back hard at the end of winter to rejuvenate the plants. Self-sown seedling of any euphorbias can be transplanted when they are small, no more than three or four centimetres tall.

Warning: the sap of this plant is a skin irritant


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Sea Holly

Plant name: Eryngium bourgatii

Description: a perennial with stunning green, prickly foliage marbled with silver. THe flowers, which appear in summer, are cobalt blue, and are very attracteive to bees.

Size: 50cm x 60cm

Special comments: loved for its contrasting leaves, this plant enjoys hot, dry summers and cold winters. Not for humid regions.


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Text: Graham Ross

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Author: Graham Ross