Old garden favourites flourish with a little bit of care

Allamanda is a woody evergreen shrub or vine with trumpet shaped flowers.
Allamanda is a woody evergreen shrub or vine with trumpet shaped flowers.

Gardeners always get excited about ''new'' plants, but many of us also have a soft spot for the old-fashioned, hard-working plants.

You know, those plants that have been around forever and continue to perform well, even if they don't get as much attention as the new arrivals.

One much-loved workhorse of the tropical and sub-tropical garden is the Allamanda. Native to South and Central America, Allamandas are woody evergreen shrubs or vines with oval shaped, leathery leaves and large, showy, trumpet shaped flowers.

The most commonly grown Allamanda has bright, clear yellow flowers, hence the common name Golden Trumpet.

There are also other colours, including Jamaican Sunset with lovely dusky salmon flowers, and Winter Velvet, whose flowers are dark crimson in summer and a softer pink in winter.

Allamandas flower for a long time - usually from about November through to May.

Another old-fashioned favourite is Pentas.

Growing into a shrub about 60-80cm tall, Pentas have dark green, pleated leaves, and bear numerous heads containing dozens of small, star-shaped flowers in shades of white, pinks, mauves and red.

They flower almost year round, and thrive in full sun or part shade.

A thoroughly neglected Pentas may look a bit shabby, but it will come back beautifully if given a hard prune.

Pentas has dozens of small star shaped flowers.
Pentas has dozens of small star shaped flowers.

Abelia grandiflora is another much under-utilised shrub.

It grows about 1.5m tall and wide, with lovely small, glossy green leaves.

The delicate bell shaped flowers form in clusters at the ends of arching branches throughout spring and summer.

It makes a great screen as it grows quickly, is dense in habit, and responds well to trimming.

Azalea indica are sun-hardy, large growing azaleas that are very tough.

They generally have single flowers, borne in profusion through autumn and winter in shades of white, pink, mauve and salmon.

They will grow to about 1.5-2.5m tall and are more resilient than many of the newer, fancier types.

Hydrangeas have made a remarkable comeback in the last few years as gardeners re-discover just how good they are in a semi-shaded situation.

They start flowering in mid-spring and continue through summer and into autumn.

Another old-fashioned beauty enjoying a new lease of life is Angelonia.

These small perennial plants are grown for the pretty spikes of flowers held in abundance above lovely soft, mid-green foliage.

In a palette of white, pinks, blues and mauves, they look very delicate but are remarkably tough.

They only grow about 30-60cm tall, and are lovely in pots and garden beds.

A sunny to partly-shaded position is best.

Angelonia small perennial plants with spikes of flowers
Angelonia small perennial plants with spikes of flowers

Camellias, gardenias, ixoras, dipladenias and agapanthus also spring to mind when I think about easy-care flowering perennial plants and shrubs.

They are not particularly needy or fussy, and will continue to perform year after year with basic maintenance.

All of these work-horses of the garden have minimal needs.

Adequate water during dry times, mulch to protect the root zone, the occasional feeding with a suitable fertiliser and a trim after flowering will keep them looking good.


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Topics:  flowers gardening lifestyle plants

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