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Ladybrook Nursery’s 7 favourite perennial plants for raised beds and raised gardens

Ladybrook Nursery has over 80 years’ combined experience in sourcing and supplying wholesale plant supplies for landscape garden designs. We supply architects, garden designers, landscape contractors, landscape designers, local authorities, house builders and landowners with plants for major projects. One of the more popular garden designs we are often asked to supply plants for is the raised garden. So what advice do we give to clients who are looking to create a raised garden, and what sort of plants would we recommend for raised beds?

What’s the appeal of the raised garden?

Raised beds are great for any garden which suffers with heavy clay soil. What’s more raised beds drain well and will warm up much faster in the spring, giving you earlier crops. Aside from the pleasing visual effects of garden raised beds, raised bed gardening has several other advantages, including:

  • Being able to choose the type of soil you place in your raised beds – this is particularly useful for growing ericaceous plants like Azaleas, Camelia, Heather and other lime-hating plants.
  • Good drainage and warmer soil early on in the spring, however, plants in raised beds can suffer more quickly and more severely from drought due to improved drainage, so it’s vital to keep an eye on their watering needs.
  • Prevention of soil compaction as there is no need to walk on the soil surface in order to maintain your plants.
  • Easier access
  • Raised beds have a bigger soil volume than containers so require less watering.
  • They are easy to cover with netting or fleece so crops can be protected and the cropping season can be extended.

What plants can be grown in raised beds?

Most plants, with the exception of large trees and shrubs, can be grown in a raised bed. Raised garden beds are particularly useful for plants that require good drainage – such as alpine and Mediterranean plants – and for plants that require specialist soil like lime-hating plants.

Top perennial plants for growing plants in raised beds

Perennial plants can add colour and seasonal interest to the garden from April to November, often attracting bees and butterflies to their blooms: they often make great cut flowers Perennial plants are incredibly versatile and can be used as fillers between shrubs, planted as groundcover beneath trees, grown in containers or planted on their own to create a classic herbaceous border. Herbaceous perennial plants are an easy alternative to annual flowers, returning each year and growing larger as they mature.

There are plenty of perennial plants to choose from, but Ladybrook Nursery’s top plants for easy and reliable growing in raised beds would include:

Lavenders

Although lavender is technically a shrub, it’s often treated as a perennial. Well-loved for its fragrant summer flowers and scented silver-green foliage, lavender is a hardy and versatile evergreen shrub. The purple, lilac or pink flowers are highly attractive to bees and butterflies, and because of their Mediterranean origins, lavender plants have good drought tolerance, coping well with light, sandy soils. Lavender is best grown near the front of borders, as a low evergreen hedge, or in patio containers as a stylish addition to the garden.

Sedum

Sedums, or Stonecrop, are grown for their late summer and autumn colour. In the right circumstances they will often continue flowering until November. With fantastic tolerance to drought, salty coastal conditions, and poor soil, Sedums are one of the easiest plants to grow in the raised garden. For a perennial border, choose Sedum spectabile (Ice Plant) which has a neat, upright growth habit and succulent, grey-green leaves. Tiny star-shaped, normally pink flowers are borne in dense, flat cymes from August through to late autumn and are a superb source of late nectar for bees and butterflies. Grow Sedum plants at the front of herbaceous borders and leave the faded flower heads intact for winter interest.

Rudbeckia

Rudbeckias are reliable and popular perennial plants, valued for their long-lasting, bright daisy-like flowers which inject a splash of colour in late summer and early autumn. Sunny yellow petals (sometimes red, orange or bronze) surround prominent conical centres of green, brown or black which are attractive to bees and other pollinating insects. Fantastic for heavy clay soils, plant Rudbeckia as part of a mixed border, herbaceous border or grow them alongside ornamental grasses for a prairie-style look.

Geraniums

Hardy Geraniums, also known as Cranesbill, are a diverse group of plants and are amongst the most tolerant and long-lived perennials which you could grow. Happy in any position, Geranium plants are great for filling tricky areas of the garden such as dry shade or deep shade. These low-maintenance perennials provide colour over a long period in the summer. Flowers are generally white, pink, purple or blue and growth habits range from trailing or spreading, to taller, clump-forming varieties. Grow Geraniums as ground cover, edging or to fill gaps in herbaceous and shrub borders.

Salvia nemorosa

Salvia nemorosa is a prolific-flowering hardy perennial plant producing purple flower spikes in abundance from summer to autumn. Their bright purple flowers are highly attractive to bees and, as with most sage plants, the grey-green foliage is strongly aromatic when rubbed or brushed against. Originating from hot, dry areas Salvia plants are superb for hot and sunny borders, and have good drought tolerance once established. A wonderful upright accent, Salvia works well as part of a mixed border or grown with grasses.

Japanese Anemones

Japanese Anemones (Anemone x hybrida) are stunning performers in late summer and autumn when many other plants have passed their best. Masses of large, bright, simple blooms, which are attractive to bees, are produced on elegant branching stems high above mounds of green, palmate foliage. Growing up to 1.5m tall they are superb for adding height to the back of borders, although more compact varieties are available to suit any planting scheme. Grow Japanese Anemones in fertile, sunny or semi-shaded borders. They work well as part of a cottage garden theme or grown in woodland gardens.

Dianthus

From large border carnations to dainty pinks, Dianthus plants are a versatile addition to the garden, best known for their silver-grey foliage, frilly double blooms and deliciously sweet clove fragrance. Easy to grow in a sunny spot, Dianthus plants are an essential addition to cottage gardens. Grow alpine pinks such as Dianthus deltoides in a rock garden, raised bed, in patio containers or as ground cover. These tough little perennials cope well with windy and salty coastal conditions. Grow the larger pinks and carnations in beds, borders and patio containers.

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