It won’t be long now — spring is not far away!


It’s March 1st here at Denmans, and after a very pleasant last week of February weather, it’s amazing to see the response of bulbs and plants alike in a short space of time, after what was a colder than normal calendar winter (December, January, February).


The mimosas (Acacia dealbata) are in full bloom just now.

The 4 mimosa’s (Acacia dealbata) are looking stunning and most of the camelias are now out.


This time of year, I feel that the gravel paths and gravel garden areas are even more in focus.


Glaucus blue Agave americana is striking throughout the year.

Although we have exotic plants such as Agave americana, Dasylirion atrotrichum, Beschorneria yuccoides, plus palms and herbs planted in amongst those gravel areas, it is a misconception to say that we have a Mediterranean-type gravel garden.


In fact, the above accounts for a small proportion of our planting in these areas and the following list of plants and the accompanying photos will show the diverse range that can be used to accentuate the gravel and continue to do so throughout the year.


In a months time, the camassias growing in the gravel in front of the Cottage will be stunning!

Currently we have cyclamen, hyacinths, snowdrops, numerous daffodils, tulips and camassia all poking through ready for their display.


Soft grey lambs ear (Stachys lanata), shown here with viper’s bugloss (Echeum vulgare), is a great favourite with our bees.

Also, perennials like Stachys lanata, Galactites tomentosa, primulas, Smyrnium perfoliatum, Ajuga reptans, Helleborus argutifolius and Helleborus orientalis, various Euphorbia (wulfennii, rigida, myrsinites) are in flower or showing new growth, with many of these growing through gravel in shaded areas, so the contrast of the light gravel and the plants is pleasantly highlighted.



We love everything about purple milk thistle (Galactites tomenstosa), and it contrasts beautifully with evening primrose (Oenethra biennis).







Beautiful when raindrops pool on its leaves, lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) is sensational when its yellow blooms catch the evening light.

As spring progresses towards summer, the likes of Alchemilla mollis, green and purple forms of fennel ( Foeniculum vulgare), Salvia officianalis purpurea, Oenethra biennis, Aster frickartii monch, Schizostylis coccinea, Acanthus mollis and spinosa, Liriope muscari, Bergenia cordifolia, and Bergenia ciliata ‘Dumbo’, etc, will all play their part planted within the gravel.


So Denmans Gardens has lots of gravel areas throughout the garden, but still has lawned areas, woodland, informal deep shrub borders in its four acres that work together with the gravel to make the planting here unique.


With a little imagination (and an understanding of your soil and climate) a wide variety of plants can be grown in gravel — not just those associated with dry climates.

Planting in gravel can be as diverse as you like using plants that are hardy and relevant to your location and not limited to those exotic plants that are usually associated with hot, sunny gravel garden planting.


Let’s hope 2021 allows many of you to visit us at Denmans soon.


Graham Best (Head gardener)