Acanthus spinosus

Here there is a difficult choice between Acanthus spinosus and A. mollis, for both are fine architectural plants for the medium or large garden. A. spinosus is invincibly invasive and horribly spiny to handle, but is so spectacular in flower and leaf that I give it pride of place. A hardy perennial, flowering in late summer, it is been the inspiration in classical times of the Corinthian capital. (The leaves of A. mollis are rounded, and of a blander green.) The flower spikes, which are at least 4 feet (1.2 m) tall, carry hooded purple and white flowers up most of thecelebrated for its enormous, deeply cut leaves of shiny dark green, said to have stalk, and are plentiful if the plant is in full sun. In shade, it will be mainly a foliage plant, but still fully worth its place. It needs deep, well-drained soil.

Both species make a wonderful foil for shrub roses (again, not for the small garden), and they look well in the mixed border with sun-lovers such as achilleas and salvias, but their invasiveness is frankly a peril. If you can give them a bed to themselves, the leaves and flowers will make a strong focal point in the garden for weeks in late summer and autumn, and the flower spikes dry well for winter flower arrangements.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.