100 beautiful and useful plants

100 beautiful and useful plants

Head gardeners from some of the most spectacular gardens around pick their top beautiful and useful plants

Who best to ask for ideas on the most beautiful and useful plants than the men and women who care for some of the most iconic gardens? We asked five gardeners who head the teams in five very different gardens, from the romantic Sissinghurst to the contemporary style of New York’s High Line, and from the gardens of a boutique hotel to the private gardens of HRH The Prince of Wales. The list of plants they compiled is brilliantly helpful and inspiring, one that will help any gardener choose what to plant where.


Head gardeners: 

Debs Goodenough (DG): Highgrove Gardens, Gloucestershire The Kew-trained Canadian has been head gardener at Highgrove for 11 years, working for HRH The Prince of Wales to create his vibrant organic gardens.

Eric Rodriguez (ER): The High Line, New York Eric is director of horticulture at the High Line in New York where he has supported ecological horticulture for the past three years.

Martin Ogle (MO) Lowther Castle, Cumbria Martin has led the restoration project at Lowther Castle through the many stages of its development working closely with designer Dan Pearson. 

Michelle Cain (MC) Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent The former music promoter trained at Capel Manor and earlier this year became head gardener at the famous gardens of Sissinghurst Castle. 

Tom Coward (TC) Gravetye Manor, Sussex For the past nine years, Tom has headed the garden team at the hotel Gravetye Manor, once the home of Victorian ‘wild garden’ exponent William Robinson.

Annuals and biennials

1 CENTAUREA CYANUS ‘BLUE BOY’  Made for a Royal buttonhole, this large-flowered, old cornflower cultivar with its rich, blue-hue flowers performs well in borders, or grown as a cut flower. Height (H) 75cm. Spread (S) 10-30cm. Conditions (C) Easy to grow in any well-drained soil; full sun. Season of interest (SI) Late spring to summer. Hardiness rating (HR) RHS H6. Selected by Debs Goodenough (DG)

2 CLEOME HASSLERIANA ‘VIOLET QUEEN’  Its interesting foliage and unusual flowers add vertical accent and an airy quality to a herbaceous border. It’s almost at its best as it finishes its display in late summer with spider-like seedpods that dry to give interest into the winter. H 1.5m. S 1m. C Moist but well-drained soil; full sun in sheltered position. SI July – September. HR RHS H2. TC