THE MODERN MINT BLOG
We know we know – Verbena bonariensis is so well known, planted in so many gardens, that it has become uncool to use it these days. Its ubiquitiousness means it gets judged in harsher tones than other plants, as if its popularity has made it offensive.
This is not the Verbena’s fault. It became popular for a reason – it weaves its way around the garden but doesn’t out compete other plants, it provides height and structure, encourages wildlife, is a gorgeous purple, looks good with other plants and fits into schemes as diverse as a country meadow to urban minimalism. Who wouldn’t want a plant like that? (Possibly the people of Buenos Aires, where this Verbena was discovered and given its name ‘bonariensis’… we’ve not noticed it around the city recently. Time for a trip and take a better look? See if the Argentines are enjoying one of their own…?)
At Modern Mint we refuse to let this lack of love for the plant deter us – a heinous crime against the arbitrarial zeitgeist of good taste it currently may be, but it is a plant with wonderful qualities (for an example of how it is currently viewed, note that it didn’t make it into Dan Pearson’s list.)
The wheels will keep turning and it will come back into fashion, hopefully this time considered the great garden plant it is.
Where and how do you use it?
Plant it in full sun or part shade.
Don’t cut it down before winter, let it stand (and seed.)
It looks great alongside shrub roses, or Miscanthus…
It prefers a damper soil. Really, it does. Henk Gerritsen told us, and observations we made from our own experiments lead us to agree…
“I sometimes made deadful miscalculations. For example, I assumed that due to their lanky growth Verbena bonariensis and Verbena hastata loved aridity, but in practise I noticed that they wilted away in dry places. Only later did I read that in the wild both species grow in moist places, in South and North America respectively.”
That concludes our ode to Verbena bonariensis. We hope you dismiss the current vogue of not using Verbena, and enjoy it as the brilliant garden plant it is.
(And click on the link below to take you to the wonderful Henk Gerritsen book we quoted from above…)
Making a new topiary out of the large, dull facade of a Taxus blob… My work was to change it up from a ‘jelly drop’ shape and give it texture, open it out and let the light through, and make it a sculptural feature in the background of the garden in summer… yet a major part of the garden in winter. A few more years before it becomes something special, but there was far more leaf and growth inside the plant than I thought and so it will not take too long for it to gain in character and become …
Two weeks ago I was invited to teach topiary at the garden of Griselda Kerr, the author of The Apprehensive Gardener. I love teaching and sharing skills, but I was placed on the spot in the afternoon and asked to show how I would make a new topiary from an existing shrub. So below is a speeded-up video of me creating a cloud-pruned topiary from an old boxwood tree. I particularly love the ending when the class get involved….! See the video here. One hour was all it took, and though it needed a little tidying-up, it was made by …
Charlotte Molesworth, my topiary mentor, and I are running our popular topiary workshop again in 2022. You can email me for details – or go here for information, your ticket and to find out about dates. Book A Spot On A Topiary Workshop, September 2022