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Alternative plants

Invasive non-native plants have sometimes been used in the past for difficult areas of your garden - a particularly exposed patch, for example, or where a bare wall needs to be covered quickly. 

The Plant Alert team at Coventry University have developed a list of over 160 plant species that do the same, or similar, 'jobs' as invasive plants and can be used in their place. This list is an update on a previous list developed by the RHS and Plantlife. You can download a copy of the booklet, or view the list below.


View similar guides for landscaping (PDF) and pond and aquarium plants (PDF).

Remember, whichever plants you choose, it's really important to prevent them from spreading beyond your garden, pond or aquarium. Read our Be Plant Wise guidance for simple tips on how to do this. 


Plants for wildlife

Groundcover Galium odoratum sweet woodruff A UK native. This vigorous perennial forms a wide mat of erect stems to 30 cm tall, bearing whorls of bright green leaves, with terminal clusters of small white, starry flowers from late spring. Ideal under hedges, trees, underplanting for shrubs and wildlife gardens. Hay-scented when dry.
Herbaceous Veronicastrum virginicum Culver's Root Perennial to 2 m or more bearing architectural whorls of toothed foliage and tall wands of lilac flowers.
  Achillea millefolium Yarrow A compact, herbaceous perennial to about 50 cm tall with aromatic, ferny foliage that normally overwinters as a basal rosette. Produces flat clusters of small pink/cream daisy-like flowers on upright stems from early summer to early autumn.
  Baptisia australis False indigo A herbaceous perennial with blue-green, trifoliate leaves and erect, lupin-like spires of violet-blue flowers in early summer forming a clump to 1.2 m tall. Followed by attractive inflated, dark grey seed pods. Prefers a sunny acidic border, or in pots for a dramatic display. Dislikes being disturbed.
  Helleborus foetidus Stinking hellebore Evergreen perennial to 80 cm tall with erect stems and palmately-divided leaves with narrow, dark green leaflets. Nodding, usually purple-edged, pale green flowers, in large open clusters from midwinter to mid-spring. Prefers part shade. Ideal for underplanting, low maintenance and courtyard gardens.
  Hylotelephium spectabile Butterfly stonecrop Easily propagated, fleshy perennial with flat heads of (usually) pink flowers. For best wildlife value sterile hybrids should be avoided. Neutral, moderately fertile soil is best.
  Digitalis purpurea Foxglove Biennial forming a neat rosette of hairy leaves in the first year followed in the second by graceful, one-sided spikes to 2 m tall of tubular, purple flowers with maroon spots on the inside. UK native, highly attractive to pollinators.
  Matthiola longipetala subsp. bicornis Night-scented stock Highly scented annual with linear or lobed, grey-green leaves to 8 cm long. In summer four-petalled flowers (2 cm across) in shades of pink and purple are borne in loose racemes. Popular with pollinators. 
  Angelica gigas Purple angelica Herb to 2 m tall with toothed, pinnate leaves. Dark red umbels of flowers are borne on red stems in late summer. Biennial or short-lived perennial.
  Orlaya grandiflora White laceflower A branching annual, 45 to 75 cm tall with jaggedly divided leaves and white lacy flowers in flattish umbels. Long flowering and attractive to insects.
  Sanguisorba officinalis Burnett Sanguisorba are herbaceous perennials with attractive, pinnate leaves and branched stems bearing terminal spikes of small fluffy flowers with conspicuous stamens.
  Valeriana officinalis Common Valerian Pinnate-leaved, clump-forming perennial to 80 cm tall or more with upright stems bearing flat-topped pink or white flowerheads.
Plants to cover walls Ceanothus thyrsiflorus Californian lilac Dense evergreen shrub providing cover and shelter for wildlife. Bears bright blue flowers in early summer. Hardy in all but the coldest areas.
Shrubs Hamamelis vernalis Spring Witch-hazel Upright shrub bearing spidery yellow or orange flowers on bare twigs in winter and spring. The leaves turn clear yellow in autumn. Easy to grow in an open but unexposed site. Will tolerate deep, humus-rich soils.
  Hyssopus officinalis Hyssop Dwarf semi-evergreen sub-shrub to 60 cm tall with small, dense, aromatic foliage and spikes of two-lipped, dark blue flowers from midsummer.
  Chimonanthus praecox Wintersweet  Strong-growing deciduous shrub to 4 m tall with glossy lanceolate leaves to
20 cm long. Nodding, deliciously fragrant, greenish-yellow flowers are
produced on the bare twigs in winter. The flowers are often purple inside and
up to 2.5 cm wide.
  Erica x darleyensis Darley Dale Heath Low-growing shrub with needle-like leaves, bearing flowers in late winter and spring. Flowers are urn-shaped, usually in shades of pink and form racemes to 10 cm long. Many cultivars are available. Alkaline soils may be tolerated.
  Heliotropium arborescens Common heliotrope Bushy, low-growing short-lived shrub best grown as an annual with dark, wrinkled leaves and flat heads of violet-blue flowers that are carried in summer.
  Sambucus nigra f. porphyrophylla 'Gerda' Sambucus nigra f. porphyrophylla 'Gerda' A deciduous shrub or small tree, with deep purple foliage from spring to autumn. Striking flat heads of scented pinkish-purple flowers, followed by purple-black berries.
  Viburnum opulus Guelder-rose Vigorous deciduous shrub to 4 m tall bearing lobed leaves that turn red in autumn. Its lacecap flowers are followed by glossy red fruit.
  Viburnum x bodnantense Bodnant Viburnum Deciduous shrub to 3 m tall bearing toothed leaves to 10 cm long that have a reddish tinge when young. The highly fragrant, tubular flowers in shades of pink are borne in clusters at the ends of the branches.
Structural  Ilex aquifolium Holly Hardy evergreen shrub bearing spiny, glossy foliage when young. Available in a range of variegated cultivars. Female plants bear red berries. Good as a windbreak.
Sunny/exposed sites  Eupatorium cannabinum Hemp-agrimony A vigorous upright perennial with reddish stems, leaves divided into narrow leaflets, and dense domed clusters of tiny light pink to purple flowers in late summer and early autumn. UK native. Plant for pollinators.
 Trees Crataegus laevigata 'Paul's Scarlet' Hawthorn 'Paul's Scarlet' Thorny, deciduous tree to 8 m tall. Bears a great profusion of bright red-pink, very double flowers in late spring.


Groundcover plants


Ajuga reptans


Spreading perennial with attractive evergreen foliage forming dense mats, with whorled two-lipped flowers forming short spikes. Deep blue flowers from late spring to early summer.


Bergenia cordifolia & hybrids


Robust perennials spreading on thick, branching rhizomes. Leaves are large, glossy and paddle-like and purple-tinged in winter. The flowers are usually in shades of pink, borne on fleshy stems. Good for sheltered sites but intolerant of drought.


Convallaria majalis


Lily of the Valley


A highly fragrant perennial to 25 cm in height, forming extensive colonies. Erect racemes of nodding, white bell-shaped flowers arise from the paired, elliptic leaves.


Leucothoe fontanesiana

Drooping Laurel


Shrub to 2 m or so with arching branches carrying evergreen, leathery, lance- shaped leaves and small white flowers in spring. Variegated cultivars are available. Needs a sheltered position.


Pachysandra terminalis

Carpet Box


Evergreen perennial spreading on smooth stems from which are produced deeply cut, glossy, dark green leaves. Small white flowers are produced in early summer.


Sanicula epipactis


Broad-leaved sanicle


A perennial forming a compact clump of glossy leaves, preceded by tight heads of tiny yellow flowers within rosettes of toothed, oblong, yellow-green bracts. Suiting the woodland style garden.


Tiarella cordifolia


Foam flower


An herbaceous perennial to 30 cm in height, with 3 to 5-lobed, broadly ovate leaves becoming bronze-tinged in autumn. Erect stems bearing open racemes of small, creamy-white flowers in summer.


Viola odorata


Sweet Violet


Rhizomatous perennial bearing toothed, heart-shaped leaves and, in winter or early spring, perfumed blue or white spurred flowers.


Waldsteinia ternata


Siberian Waldsteinia


Rhizomatous, semi-evergreen perennial with lobed, toothed leaves above which are borne bright yellow, open flowers to 1.5 cm across in late spring and early summer.


Frankenia laevis




Coastal evergreen, mat forming perennial with tiny leaves and the general appearance of a heather. Produces small pink flowers. Found naturally in saltmarsh/ sand dune transition zones and saltmarshes. Suits coastal, rock and gravel gardens.


Genista pilosa


Hairy Greenweed


A drought tolerant creeping shrub with bright yellow pea like flowers and deep green foliage. Preferring well drained sandy soils. Ideal for the gravel or rock garden. Will tolerate dapple shade, prefers full sun.


Geranium 'Mavis Simpson'


Crane's-bill 'Mavis Simpson'


Herbaceous perennial to 30cm tall with silvery, lobed leaves. It bears open flowers (to 3.5 cm wide) that are pale pink with darker veins. Grows in any moderately fertile soil but not in waterlogged areas. Ideal for underplanting shrubs, roses, rock and gravel gardens.


Geranium pratense


Meadow crane's-bill


A clump-forming perennial with hairy stems and deeply-lobed foliage.

The saucer-shaped, white, blue or violet flowers are 4 cm across and appear in early to mid-summer.


Geranium sanguineum var. striatum

Striped Bloody Crane's-bill


Herbaceous perennial to 15 cm tall with deeply cut leaves on long spreading stems. Produces large, very pretty, open flowers with very pale pink petals that are darker along the veins.


Silene uniflora 'Robin Whitebreast'

Sea Campion 'Robin Whitebreast'

Semi-evergreen perennial with lance-shaped grey-green leaves borne on prostrate stems. Bears white, double flowers with cut petals.


Veronica perfoliata


Digger's Speedwell


Evergreen perennial bearing low, arching stems with pairs of stalkless, rounded, glaucous, leathery, toothed leaves to 5cm long. Attractive racemes of blue flowers are borne in late summer.


Naturalising plants


Asphodeline lutea


Yellow Asphodel


Tall, fleshy-rooted perennial forming clumps of narrow, glaucous leaves topped by dense spikes of fragrant yellow flowers. Grows to 1.5 m high.


Colchicum autumnale


Meadow Saffron


Cormous perennial producing copious pink, goblet-shaped flowers (to 15 cm), followed by lance-shaped leaves. Double-flowered cultivars are available.


Galtonia candicans


Summer Hyacinth


Bulbous perennial with fleshy, lance-shaped leaves and leafless stems to 1.2 m tall. Bears pendant, white, bell-shaped flowers that are each 5 cm long.

Soils need to be moist in spring and summer but drier over winter.

Damp banks

Geum rivale


Water avens


A herbaceous perennial with bright green, lobed basal leaves. The flower stems and sepals are flushed with dark red, and the dusky pink or pale orange, drooping flowers appear from late spring to midsummer.


Aster linosyris


Goldilocks Aster


UK native. Clumping perennial herb for shallow soil in open grassy places. Erect stems of golden yellow flowers to 70 cm tall in late summer and early autumn.


Campanula rotundifolia


Common Harebell


UK native spreading perennial to 30 cm tall with heart-shaped leaves. Slender stems bear nodding bell-shaped flowers, usually in shades of blue. Suitable for rock gardens, sunny banks or walls.


Kniphofia rooperi


Rooper's Red-hot-poker


Imposing perennial to 1.2 m tall with clumps of broadly linear leaves and impressive, fat heads of red hot poker flowers in autumn.


Echium vulgare




Bushy biennial bearing bristly, narrow leaves and in the second year purple, pink-tinged, bell-shaped flowers in dense inflorescences.


Eupatorium maculatum Atropurpureum Group

Joe Pye Weed


Perennial to 3 m tall with domed heads of purple flowers over whorls of dark foliage in mid to late summer. Prefers moist soil in full sun or part shade.


Gillenia trifoliata


Bowman's root


A rhizomatous perennial with reddish stems bearing small, 3-lobed leaves and open sprays of starry white flowers. Prefers acidic to neutral moist but well drained soil in part shade.


Polemonium caeruleum

Jacob's ladder


Erect perennials with a spreading habit. Pinnate leaves and usually clustered, tubular, bell, or funnel-shaped flowers. Self-seeds freely.

Shady / sheltered

Geranium sylvaticum


Wood cranesbill


A medium-sized, deciduous perennial with divided, toothed leaves. Flowers are borne in May and June generally being violet-blue with a white centre. It is a UK native of woodland and meadows.


Ligularia 'Gregynog Gold'


Leopard Plant 'Gregynog Gold'


Award-winning hybrid with rounded leaves to 35 cm long. Bears pyramids (to

1.8 m tall) of golden daisy flowers 10 cm across in late summer and autumn. Needs protection from very hot sun.


Aethionema 'Warley Rose’


Stone Cress 'Warley Rose'


Semi-evergreen subshrub with narrow grey green leaves (to 1 cm wide) and abundant racemes of bright pink, cross-shaped flowers in late spring and summer.


Iberis saxatilis


Alpine Candytuft


Evergreen subshrub forming a cushion of fleshy leaves to 2 cm long.

The small, white, cross-shaped flowers are borne in late spring and summer. Prefers very well drained soils.


Camassia quamash


Common Camassia


Vigorous, bulbous perennial to 80 cm producing bright green, channelled leaves and large, upright spikes of starshaped, showy blue flowers. Intolerant of waterlogging.


Colchicum speciosum


Giant Meadow Saffron


Vigorous, cormous perennial to 18 cm tall with narrow leaves. Goblet-shaped flowers are pink-purple, often with a white throat.


Crocus banaticus


Byzantine Crocus


Cormous perennial to 10 cm tall producing solitary, purple flowers. The outer tepals are large and boat-shaped, the inner much smaller. Leaves are dark green and linear.


Crocus biflorus


Silvery Crocus

Variable cormous perennial to 6 cm tall carrying flowers which have yellow throats and can be found in shades of blue or white, sometimes with purple striping.


Crocus etruscus


Tuscan Crocus


Cormous perennial to 8 cm tall usually seen with lilac-blue flowers that are finely veined. Leaves are produced after the flowers.


Crocus laevigatus


Smooth Crocus


Variable cormous perennial to 8 cm tall with usually white to lilac, fragrant flowers often with distinct feathering. Flowers are produced simultaneously with the dark green, linear leaves.


Dierama pulcherrimum


Angel's Fishing-rod


Cormous perennial to 1.5 m tall with narrow, grass-like leaves and graceful, arching stems of pendant, bell-shaped flowers in shades of pink. It requires plentiful water when in growth and may be susceptible to hard frost.


Architectural plants


Carex flagellifera 'Glen Murray'


Tussock sedge


C. flagellifera is a clump forming evergreen perennial, with narrowly linear, reddish-brown leaves, showing eye catching light brown flower spikes on stems to 1 m tall in late summer.


Allium atropurpureum


Very-dark purple allium


A hardy perennial bulb, up to 60 cm tall, with strap-shaped green leaves. Deep purple-red flowers up to 5 cm across on upright stems in late spring and early summer. Beautiful cut flower.


Leucomis pallidiflora subsp. pole-evansii



Pole evans pineapple lily


A perennial bulb with strap-shaped leaves, up to 1 m long.  Giant spires of tightly-packed, greenish-white flowers, topped with a cluster of leafy bracts, up to 2 m tall in late summer and early autumn. Needs a warm, sunny

position in well drained soil.


Deschampsia 'Goldtau'


Deschampsia Goldtau


A smaller-growing Deschampsia variety.. Dark green leaves age to golden brown. The long-lasting flower plumes, held up to 75 cm, are silvery brown and green, turning warm gold as they mature, giving a shimmering effect


Melica uniflora f. albida


Wood melic


A delicate creeping perennial grass with bright green deciduous foliage. White flowers appear from June to July. Well suited for shrub/ hedge underplanting and in wildlife gardening. Avoid waterlogged soil. Thrives  in dryish alkaline soil.


Milium effusum 'Aureum'


Bowles Golden Grass


A semi-evergreen perennial grass forming loose clumps of large arching, soft yellow leaves, with nodding panicles of yellow flowers in early summer Intolerant of full sun on poor dry soils


Astelia chathamica


Silver Spear


Clump-forming evergreen perennial to 1.2 m tall bearing clumps of broad channelled, silvery leaves. Yellowish green flowers are sometimes produced and followed by orange berries on female plants.


Ampelodesmos mauritanicus


Diss Grass


Impressive grass to 3 m tall with arching, evergreen foliage and tall stems bearing pendant flowers.


Nicotiana sylvestris


Flowering Tobacco


Biennial, or short-lived perennial, to 1.5 m tall. Produces a rosette of dark leaves from which emerges an inflorescence bearing strongly fragrant white flowers with long tubes to 10 cm. May survive outdoors but best raised from seed each year.


Aralia cachemirica




Huge leaves to 1.2 m long divided into shiny leaflets above which appear spikes of starry umbels to 3 m tall.


Cirsium heterophyllum

Melancholy thistle


A clump-forming, spreading perennial up to 1.2 m tall with distinctive solitary flower heads of red purple flowers. The lance-shaped, green leaves have softly-spined edges and white-felted undersides.


Crambe cordifola

Greater sea kale

Huge clumps of heart-shaped foliate to 1.5 m across are topped by branching sprays of small white flowers to 2 m high.


Datisca cannabina

Cretan Hemp

Slender stems to 3 m bear delicate, dissected leaves and tassels of green flowers. Ideal for the back of the border.


Rheum palmatum

Ornamental rhubarb

Huge ornamental rhubarb to 2.5 m tall or more with large, deeply lobed leaves and upright spikes of small greenish flowers.


Thalictrum rochebruneanum




Much-divided foliage bears frothy lavender and yellow flowers to 3 m or more in height.


Athyrium filix-femina


Lady fern


A vigorous deciduous fern with erect fresh green lacy fronds to 80 cm or more. They are especially shade-tolerant.


Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’

Cow Parsley 'Ravenswing'

Biennial, or short-lived perennial, to 1 m tall with lacy, dark foliage. Umbels of pink flowers on slender stems are carried early in the season.


Iris 'Black Swan'


Iris - Black Swan


An herbaceous bearded iris perennial, to around 90 cm tall, with narrow, pointed, grey-green leaves. In late spring and early summer flowers of deep purple appear.




Stauntonia hexaphylla


Stauntonia vine


A vigorous climber with leathery elliptic leaves. Flowers in racemes of fragrant, dull pink flowers 2 cm in length, sometimes followed by ovoid purplish fruits to 5 cm in length. Ideal for a warm sheltered wall.


Actinidia kolomikta




Vigorous twining climber to 5 m or more, rarely producing its small flowers but bearing large leaves that become attractively variegated white and pink in the upper half.


Ceanothus arboreus 'Trewithen Blue'


Californian Lilac 'Trewithen Blue'


Evergreen shrub to 5 m or so with glossy, dark green, oval leaves to 10 cm long. In spring and summer frothy heads of blue flowers are borne in abundance. May be damaged by frosts.


Clematis 'Étoile Violette'



A large, vigorous deciduous climber with mid green leaves. Profuse single deep purple velvety flowers to 10 cm in width produced mid to late summer.


Clematis x durandii


Durrand clematis


A medium-sized deciduous, non-twining perennial with long stems with simple ovate leaves to 12 cm long. Ideal for a border where it can be supported by other plants. Indigo blue flowers to 10 cm across appear in early summer to early autumn.


Clematis macropetala




A robust, deciduous climber with attractive, toothed leaves. Featuring single nodding pale blue to violet-blue flowers 3 to 4.5 cm long and many smaller, appearing semi-double. Flowers in spring with some blooms in late summer.


Hedera algeriensis 'Gloire de Marengo'

Algerian Ivy 'Gloire de Marengo'

Large-leaved ivy with creamy marginal variegation and long, easily trained stems. Tolerant of a wide range of conditions once established.


Hedera helix




Climbing or scrambling plant eventually becoming shrubby. Non-variegated selections have the best chance of producing the nectar-rich flowers, but these will need at least some sun. Prefers alkaline soils.


Hydrangea petiolaris


Climbing Hydrangea


Deciduous climber with leaves turning deep yellow before falling in autumn. Grows to 10 m or more and carries large domes of white flowers. Avoid shallow, chalky soils. Best grown in partial shade.


Indigofera heterantha


Himalayan Indigo


Spreading shrub to 3 m tall bearing pinnate, grey-green leaves to 10 cm long on arching branches. Throughout summer racemes of purple-pink pea flowers are produced.


Itea ilicifolia


Holly-leaved Sweet-spire


Evergreen shrub with arching, flexible shoots to 5 m tall and sharp-pointed, glossy leaves to 10 cm long. Pendant racemes (to 30 cm long) of small, greenish flowers from midsummer into autumn. Needs shelter from cold winds.


Lonicera periclymenum 'Graham Thomas'


Honeysuckle 'Graham Thomas'


Strong-growing, twining climber to 7 m. Very fragrant white flowers, aging yellow, are followed by red fruit. Long flowering season. Best in partial shade, tolerates full sun.


Rosa 'New Dawn'


Rose 'New Dawn'


A vigorous climbing rose with arching stems bearing glossy leaves and full, palest pink flowers. Suitable for sun or partial shade. A great range of climbing roses, providing for different aspects and effects, are available.


Vitis coignetiae


Crimson Glory-vine


Vigorous, tendril climber with large, lobed leaves to 30 cm across that turn yellow, then bright red, in autumn.


Myrtus communis


Common Myrtle


Evergreen shrub to 3 m bearing a dense coverage of dark green aromatic foliage and, from midsummer, white flowers with prominent stamens which are followed by black fruit. Not fully hardy; shelter from cold winds.


Pileostegia viburnoides


Climbing Hydrangea


Evergreen climber to 6 m with attractively leathery, oblong leaves and creamy white flowers in late summer. May suffer in the coldest winter weather


Wisteria floribunda cultivars


Japanese Wisteria

Numerous wisteria cultivars are offered.

'Yae-kokuryu' (pictured) has large, very fragrant racemes of double flowers.




Osmanthus x burkwoodii Burkwood Osmanthus


Christmas Berry 'Red Robin'


Evergreen shrub growing to 5 m tall but easily pruned to size. White flowers are carried in spring and young foliage is bright red. Needs protection

from cold winds.



Viburnum betulifolium


Birch-leaf Viburnum


Deciduous shrub with an upright habit growing to 3 m tall. The white flowers in early summer are followed by pendant clusters of bright red fruit which persist well through the winter.


Pieris japonica


Lily-of-the-valley Bush


Neat evergreen shrub to 4 m tall with toothed elliptic leaves that are reddish when young. Panicles of numerous urn-shaped, white flowers appear from pink buds. Several cultivars are available. Protect young growth from late frosts.


Zanthoxylum piperitum


Sichuan pepper


A bushy, spiny, deciduous shrub with 15 cm long aromatic dark green leaves. The bark and fruit are also aromatic. Sprays of small, yellow-green flowers are produced in early summer, followed by tiny, red fruit with black seed.


Abelia x grandiflora


Glossy Abelia


Semi-evergreen shrub to 3 m bearing glossy, dark green leaves and fragrant pinkish white tubular flowers that fall to reveal persistent pink calyces in summer and autumn.


Camellia japonica cultivars


Common Camellia


Evergreen shrubs to 4 m or more, with glossy, toothed elliptic leaves. A huge number of cultivars have been selected often with large double flowers in shades of pink and red.


Chimonanthus praecox 'Luteus'


Yellow wintersweet 'Luteus'


Deciduous shrub to 4 m with open, clear yellow flowers.


Enkianthus campanulatus


Redvein Enkianthus


Deciduous shrub to 4 m or so, with toothed leaves on whorled branches turning yellowish in autumn. Dainty, pendant, bell-shaped, creamy flowers (with red on the veins) are produced in late spring to mid-summer.


Fothergilla x intermedia 'Blue Shadow'

autumn colours.

Fothergilla 'Blue Shadow'


Rounded deciduous shrub featuring fragrant cream bottlebrush like flowers in spring. In autumn blue green leaves turn to vivid red, orange and yellow. Tolerates partial shade, full sun encourages better flowering and strong autumn colours.


Fuchsia 'Genii'


Fuchsia 'Genii'


An erect medium-sized deciduous shrub with a bushy habit and yellow-green foliage. Single small but showy reddish-purple pendent flowers.


Hebe rakaiensis

Rakai Hebe


Dense shrub to 1 m tall with glossy green leaves to 2 cm long thickly covering a rounded bush. The white racemes of flowers (to 4cm long) are borne in summer. Good for hedging. Will tolerate maritime exposure but not very cold winds.


Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'


Hydrangea 'Annabelle'


Annabelle' is a small, bushy deciduous shrub with broadly oval leaves and very large, spherical heads of white flowers to 25 cm across in summer and early autumn.


Hydrangea macrophylla


Mophead Hydrangea


Compact, deciduous shrub to 2 m tall with opposite, broad leaves to 20 cm long. There are many cultivars with domes of flowers in a great range of colours, some with entirely sterile bracts and others with fertile flowers at the centre.


Hydrangea paniculata


Paniculate Hydrangea


A medium-sized deciduous shrub with ovate leaves. Flowers mostly large, white, ageing to purplish-pink, borne in massive, broadly conical panicles from late summer.


Magnolia stellata


Star Magnolia


Deciduous shrub, becoming spreading with age, bearing narrow leaves to 10 cm long. Silky buds carried on the bare branches open into white, star-like flowers, 12 cm across. Shelter from cold winds and avoid transplanting.


Magnolia x soulangeana


Chinese Magnolia


Variable large shrub to 6 m tall with dark green leaves to 20 cm long. Large goblet-shaped flowers (to 30 cm across) ranging from white to purple. Shelter from cold winds and avoid transplanting.


Penstemon newberryi


Mountain Pride


A dwarf evergreen shrub to 25 cm in height, with small, leathery leaves. Tubular, deep rose-pink flowers 4 cm in length are borne in clusters in early summer. Prefers a very gritty well drained position in full sun.


Ribes x beatonii


Gordon's currant


A spreading deciduous shrub to 2 m tall, with aromatic, lobed dark green leaves and dense nodding red and yellow flowers in late spring.


Skimmia japonica 'Nymans'


Skimmia 'Nymans'


A spreading shrub to 1 m x 2 m bearing glossy, evergreen, aromatic foliage. Fragrant white flowers and round, red fruits are freely produced.


Zabelia triflora


Three-flowered zabelia


A large, upright, deciduous shrub to small tree to about 5 m tall. Deeply ridged bark, with dark green leaves. Clusters of small, very fragrant, pink- tinged white, tubular flowers with five petal lobes are produced in summer.


Chaenomeles x superba 'Rowallane'


Japanese Quince 'Rowallane'


Spiny deciduous shrub to 1 m tall bearing glossy green leaves and scarlet flowers to 4 cm across. Flowers may be followed by yellowish fruit.


Stachyurus praecox


Early Stachyurus


Deciduous shrub to 4 m tall with arching stems and egg-shaped leaves. In spring stiff, hanging racemes of bell-shaped greenish yellow flowers are borne on the bare stems. Needs shelter from cold winds.


Sarcococca hookeriana


Sweet Box


Small, suckering shrub to 1.5 m tall forming neat clumps of upright stems with glossy, broadly lance-shaped leaves. In winter, clusters of sweetly fragrant, small white flowers form followed by shiny black fruit. Good for dry, shady sites


Rosa 'Gertrude Jekyll'


Rose Gertrude Jekyll

An upright shrub rose to 1.2 m tall with open growth habit, broad grey-green foliage. Strongly fragrant, fully double, rich rose-pink flowers, open into a flat rosette shape, continuously flowering throughout the summer and autumn.


Viburnum x burkwoodii


Burkwood Viburnum


Evergreen shrub to 3 m tall with dark green, shiny leaves. Globes of very fragrant white flowers to 10 cm across open from pink buds and are sometimes followed by small red fruit (turning black).




Magnolia grandiflora


Large-flowered Magnolia


Magnificent evergreen tree to 10 m or more with large, very glossy, bright green leaves that are rusty brown on the underside. Bears huge, cup-shaped, fragrant white flowers. May be damaged by very cold weather.


Parrotia persica


Persian Ironwood


Spreading tree to 8 m tall bearing peeling bark and spidery, bright red flowers in winter and early spring. Produces fire coloured autumn foliage. Grow in acid soil for best autumn colour.


Sorbus thibetica 'John Mitchell'


Tibetan Whitebeam 'John Mitchell'


Deciduous tree to 20 m or so with very broad, round, silver-grey leaves with heads of white flowers in spring followed by yellowish fruit to 1.5 cm across.


Sorbus 'Joseph Rock'


Mountain Ash 'Joseph Rock'


Deciduous tree to 10 m bearing pinnate leaves that colour well in autumn. Spring white flowers are followed by round, pale yellow fruit to 1cm across.


Acer palmatum


Japanese Maple


Small tree bearing graceful, lobed leaves that become scarlet in autumn. Many choice cultivars are available.


Acer palmatum var. dissectum


Cut-leaved Japanese Maple


Rounded shrub bearing deeply cut, sometimes purple, foliage that colours up well in autumn and is often accompanied by ornamental winged fruits. Protect from cold, drying winds.


Arbutus x andrachnoides


Hybrid Strawberry Tree


Tree to 8 m with peeling red bark and glossy, toothed evergreen leaves . The small flowers are white and appear in autumn. Alkaline soils may be tolerated but acid is preferred. Shelter from cold winds.


Carpinus betulus 'Pendula'


common hornbeam



Pendula is a deciduous, slow-growing, weeping tree to 6 m tall with a dense, spreading crown. Leaves turn yellow and orange, with hop-like fruit clusters in the autumn.


Crataegus x lavallee


Lavalleei's Hawthorn


Spreading, semi-deciduous tree to 7 m bearing domed heads of white flowers followed by orange-red fruits to 2 cm across that persist through the winter.


Fagus sylvatica




Large, vigorous deciduous tree with a broad, spreading crown. Leaves broadly elliptic, yellow-green in spring, rich russet-brown in autumn. Small, green flowers and bristly fruits. Numerous cultivars are suitable for hedging and ornamental trees.


Liquidambar styraciflua


Sweet Gum


Conical tree to 20 m with glossy leaves turning deep bronze, red and orange before falling in autumn. For best autumn colour plant in full sun. Can tolerate alkaline conditions where soils are deep.


Malus 'Golden Hornet'


Crab Apple 'Golden Hornet'


Deciduous tree to 8 m with a rounded habit. White flowers in spring are followed by copious, spherical, golden yellow fruit to 2 cm across which are carried over a long period.


Nyssa sylvatica




Broadly conical tree to 15 m. Leaves produce spectacular fiery shades in autumn. Shelter from cold winds and plant out when young.


Taxus baccata




Coniferous evergreen bearing thick, dark needles and, in female plants, red fruit which is eat eaten by birds. Eventually becoming large but easily pruned to size.


Plants for ponds and bog gardens


Carex acuta


Slender tufted Sedge


Clump forming native sedge up to 90 cm, ideal for pond margins.



Carex elata ‘Aurea’


Bowles’s Golden Sedge


Rhizomatous, perennial sedge, to 70 cm, dying back in winter with leaves that bear a central, golden variegation and small flowers in spring and early summer to 45 cm.


Ceratophyllum demersum


Rigid Hornwort


Low light requirements make this a good choice for aquaria. Perennial with stiff stems eventually growing to 1 m if left unchecked. Leaves dark green and forked into linear, toothed segments. Prefers quite nutrient rich water.


Chrysosplenium davidianum


David's Golden-saxifrage


Mat-forming perennial to 8 cm tall with hairy, rounded, dark green leaves and greenish yellow, cup-shaped flowers above leafy bracts. Ideal for shady rock crevices.


Eleocharis acicularis


Needle Spike-rush


Rhizomatous oxygenating perennial to 10 cm with rush-like leaves and flowers in spikelets to 5 mm (not produced when submerged). Provides hiding places for fish fry. British native.


Eriophorum angustifolium


Common Cottongrass


A spreading, perennial member of the sedge family growing to about 40 and producing in summer spikes of cottonlike flowers. Survives in water cm deep.


Hosta 'Sum and Substance'


Plantain Lily 'Sum and Substance'


Large, ribbed, heart-shaped yellow or green leaves and spikes of bell-shaped lilac flowers in summer.


Hottonia palustris




Perennial oxygenator with whorled, pinnate leaves. Whorls of lilac, yellow- throated flowers to 2.5 cm across appear on upright stems above the surface of the water in spring. Grow in the muddy bottom of a pool in clear, shallow water in full sun.


Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’


Golden Creeping-Jenny


Vigorous prostrate perennial forming a mat of creeping stems with rounded, golden leaves in opposite pairs, bearing yellow, cup-shaped flowers in summer.


Astilbe 'Fanal' (x arendsii)


Astilbe Fanal


Herbaceous perennial with attractive leaves and erect plume-like panicles of tiny white, pink or purple flowers in summer. Grow in moist, fertile, humus-rich soil in full sun or grow in partial shade where soil is likely to dry out in the summer.


Lychnis flos-cuculi




An upright dainty perennial to 70 cm, with branched stems bearing terminal clusters of star-shaped rose-pink flowers in late spring and early summer. Well suited to moist meadows or wildlife gardens.


Astilboides tabularis


Common Astilboides


A strong statement perennial. Forming clumps of large, round leaves to 100cm across. Small, white flowers are borne on long stalks in summer. Can cope with wet but not waterlogged soils. Up to 1.5 m tall.


Lysimachia ephemerum


Willow-leaved loosestrife


A herbaceous perennial forming a clump of erect stems up to 1 m clad in narrow, grey-green leaves, with small, starry white flowers in long, slender terminal racemes in early summer. In full or part shade, in soil that doesn’t dry out in summer.


Lythrum salicaria


Purple Loosestrife


A strong clump-forming perennial with upright, branching, leafy stems to about 1 m. Produces loose spikes of pinky-purple star-shaped flowers in summer.


Nymphaea 'Pygmaea Helvola'


White Water-lily


Perennials with floating, rounded, variegated leaves to about 6 cm across. This miniature water lily with pale yellow flowers to 3 to 5 cm across is ideal for water tubs or small ponds.


Hosta (Tardiana Group) 'Halcyon'


Plantain lily 'Halcyon'


A compact herbaceous perennial with thick-textured, vivid blue-grey leaves to 20 cm in length. Light greyish-lavender, bell-shaped flowers are carried on stems to 40 cm tall. Prefers partial shade in moist soil. Best in slightly acidic or neutral soils.


Lobelia cardinalis 'Queen Victoria'


Lobelia 'Queen Victoria'


A short-lived herbaceous perennial to 90 cm tall, with beetroot-coloured, oblong leaves and bright scarlet, two-lipped flowers in long terminal racemes in summer. Requires reliably wet soil such as in a bog garden.


Alisma plantago-aquatica




Perennial to 1 m tall bearing linear submerged leaves and rosettes of long-st lance-shaped, greyish leaves above the water. Pale pink flowers produced on much-branched inflorescences in summer. Best in water 15 to 30 cm deep.


Butomus umbellatus


Flowering rush


Perennial to 1.5 m with rush-like, twisted leaves emerging purple and turning green. Umbels of fragrant pink flowers to 2.5 cm across are borne in summer on tall stems. Grow in mud or water to 25 cm deep


Iris pseudoacorus

Yellow Flag Iris


Vigorous, rhizomatous perennial up to 1.5 m tall with lance-shaped, greyish leaves and bright yellow flowers with darker markings. For large ponds only.


Juncus articulatus

Jointed rush

A clump forming British wild native marginal jointed rush with very attractive dark brown-black seed heads.


Submerged and oxygenating plants


Callitriche stagnalis


Common Water-starwort


Perennial with narrow, opposite submerged leaves that become broader in the open air. The flowers are small and insignificant, borne in summer.


Caltha palustris




Rhizomatous perennial bearing kidney-shaped leaves to 10cm long. Ope waxy, yellow or white flowers are carried on stems to 45cm in spring


Canna ‘Endeavour’


Water Canna 'Endeavour'


Tender, rhizomatous perennial to 1.8 m with erect, glaucous, paddle-shaped leaves and spikes of narrow-petalled red flowers to 5 cm across in summer and autumn. Lift tubers and overwinter in frost-free conditions.


Canna ‘Erebus’


Water Canna 'Erebus'


Tender, rhizomatous perennial to 1.2 m with erect, dark green, paddle- shaped leaves and spikes of exotic salmon flowers to 8cm across in su and autumn. Lift tubers and overwinter in frost-free conditions.


Canna ‘Ra’


Water Canna 'Ra'


Tender, rhizomatous perennial to 1.8 m with erect, slender, green leaves spikes of exotic lemon-yellow flowers in summer and autumn. Lift tube overwinter in frost-free conditions.


Fontinalis antipyretica


Water Moss


Attractive evergreen slow growing moss with pretty leaves that can help aquaria pumps. Much liked by aquatic wildlife and provides an excellent site for spawning fish. Useful for improving water quality. Thrives in sun shade, prefers moving water and cooler conditions.


Floating plants


Hydrocharis morsus-ranae




Stoloniferous perennial spreading on the surface of water and producing rounded, glossy leaves to 3 cm long. White, bowl-shaped flowers, 2 cm across, yellow at the centre are borne in the summer. Less vigorous in deeper water.


Mentha aquatica


Water Mint


Rhizomatous perennial to 90 cm with purple stems and narrow highly aromatic leaves. In summer dense spheres of tubular lilac flowers are produced. Grows in water to 15 cm deep. Plant in baskets to contain spread.


Menyanthes trifoliata




Rhizomatous perennial forming floating mats of three-parted leaves with leaflets to 6 cm long. Erect inflorescences of white, star-shaped flowers are sometimes produced in summer. Will need regular trimming, for large ponds only.


Myosotis scorpioides


Water Forget-me-not


Creeping, rhizomatous perennial with leaves to 10 cm and, in summer, a profusion of bright blue, very open flowers to 8 mm across with a paler eye. Grows best in water to 10 cm deep.


Myriophyllum spicatum


Spiked Water-milfoil


Perennial with whorls of deeply divided leaves on stems which grow to 1 m or more. In summer small reddish flowers are carried just above the water. Stems may not die back in every winter, and so may provide year-round cover for fish.


Myriophyllum verticillatum


Whorled Water-milfoil


UK native perennial oxygenator with whorls of deeply divided leaves and linear leaflets borne on stems to 1m or more. In summer very small yellowish flowers are carried just above the surface of the water.


Nuphar lutea


Yellow Water-lily



Perennial bearing floating, rounded, thick-textured, hairless leaves to 40 cm long. Above these in the summer are carried almost spherical yellow flowers to 6 cm across singly on stems. For large ponds only


Potamogeton crispus


Curled Pondweed


Perennial oxygenator bearing submerged, dissected, almost translucent leaves and leathery, floating leaves with very undulating margins. The flowers are very small and whitish, carried just above the water.


Ranunculus aquatilis


Common Water-crowfoot


Pretty annual/short-lived perennial with submerged stems and finely divided leaves, and floating lobed, kidney-shaped leaves. Produces white flowers (2 cm) at the water’s surface in summer. Prefers shallow water with good nutrient levels.


Sagittaria sagittifolia


Old World Arrowhead


Spreading perennial bearing arrow-shaped leaves with long lobes at the base and 1m tall inflorescences carrying white flowers to 2.5 cm across. In deep water long, floating leaves may also be produced. For large ponds only.


Thalia dealbata


Powdery Alligator-flag


Perennial to 2.5 m bearing lanceolate grey-green leaves on long stalks. Striking, violet flowers are borne in slender spikes in summer.

Not fully hardy and may be deciduous in cold weather


Veronica beccabunga




Creeping perennial bearing fleshy stems and leaves which are rounded and can be entire or toothed. Racemes of blue flowers with a white eye are produced in spring and summer. Will tolerate shallow water only.