In January this year, Diana of Elephant’s Eye invited us to write a plant portrait each month. “I challenge you, in 2012, each month choose a plant. Archived pictures of flowers, berries, autumn leaves, wildlife endorsing your choice. Start fresh - what will be your signature plant?” In January I profiled Carex evergold and in February I raved about the Pittosporum eugenioides ‘Variegata’. In March it was Dietes grandiflora and in May it was Clivia that was featured. Then in June I was enamoured with my Camellias that were flowering profusely and then … well winter hit us, life got in the way of regular gardening and blogging and so I’ve missed a few months.

So today I am playing “catch up” and featuring three of my favourite plants. Truth be told, I find it hard to wax lyrical for paragraphs on end about some of my choices, so a combined post is perhaps not such a bad idea right now. These next three are all fairly common plants. Common yes, but not in a negative way. Popular is probably a better way to describe them. I’ve also found that being quite new to gardening its been a lot of traial and error that lead me back to these dependable plants and one of the main reasons I feel I could not garden without them.

First of all, I simply love Lavender. I mean really, really love it! My garden with all its shade is really not an ideal environment for Lavender, but I have a narrow bed against a wall, bordering our pool that gets enough sun to allow Lavender to thrive. And thrive it really does. And another absolute favourite that I paired with Lavender is Gaura lindheimeri. I absolutely love the combination of the two and have added plenty of new Gaura this year in the hope of an even more magical display this summer. Both bloom together in this bed for months on end and give me tremendous pleasure. Both get a huge thumbs up from me as plants I will plant in any garden I own … even in pots on a balcony if that is all I have.

Gaura and Lavender, firm favourites

Gaura and Lavender togetherGaura and Lavender together

Perfect companions against a wallPerfect companions against a wall

The Lavender blooms are so prettyThe Lavender blooms are so pretty

And the whimsical Gaura lindheimeriAnd the whimsical Gaura lindheimeri

And now, I hope I don’t get shot down in flames over this choice, my next one is Nandina domestica. I’ve read very negative reports about Nandinas, I believe they are considered undesirable in some parts of the world, but here in my shaded Cape Town garden, things would be very bare and dull without the backdrop of green provided by evergreen and ever-pretty Nandinas tucked into many places where not much else would provide such a lovely, easy to maintain background to all the other plants in my garden. And I am delighted every season by the changes in these lovely shrubs, especially when they are adorned with massive bunches of bright red berries which some of my birds seem to love.

Nandina domestica

How stunning is the foliage on this?How stunning is the foliage on this?

The leaves when they turn redThe leaves when they turn red

Sometimes the leaves are pinkSometimes the leaves are pink

Two as background shrubsTwo as background shrubs

So there they are. My numbers six (Lavender), seven (Gaura) and eight (Nandina).

Not the most original choices, I know, but much loved here in my garden.

Happy Gardening
xxx