The right way to choose the plants in garden design

When cultivating a garden, you must first try to arrange the plants so that they can grow in good health, taking into account the type of soil and exposure. In addition they must harmonize with each other and with the environment, and naturally meet your needs: for example, make the garden shady and intimate, or give it height or pleasure.

The choice of stable plants plays a fundamental role because it influences the aspect that the garden will take during the year and is the background to the seasonal activities of the perennial, annual and bulbous species. A well-defined structure can be obtained with linear elements such as hedges of yew or boxwood. If you prefer a more spontaneous effect, you can combine different evergreen bushes or regular species with more wild ones. Some deciduous plants with colored branches, such as the Cornus sanguinea (sanguinello) and the maple, will liven up the environment during the winter months. Regardless of the size and environment in which they are located, many gardens are cultivated according to a set of precise rules that require the choice of stable plants with a strong impact. Although in winter the result may appear stark and austere, in spring, summer and early autumn it is possible to soften it by adding some more “frivolous” and cheerful plants. You can create extraordinary minimalist urban gardens relying only on evergreen plants used as “living sculptures”, to create a composition almost immutable throughout the year, with very slight seasonal changes. Large trees and bushes give height and volume to the garden, as well as to stimulate the development of the fauna, while the climbers allow to beautify the vertical surfaces, also providing shelter from prying eyes. Annual plants and bulbous plants, which you can plant in the ground or in pot, allow to prolong the season and introduce some color stain. Nowadays many decide to grow edible plants and plants, because they know that there is nothing better than a freshly picked product, and no doubt even the children will appreciate the benefits of natural food if they have personally cultivated it. Take into account the dimensions that the plants could reach and evaluate well how to approach them. I think it’s better to leave a lot of space between them and fill it with easy-to-move plants like perennials and grasses, rather than trees or big bushes. To achieve a harmonious result, check the impact of each operation, moving back and observing the garden from a distance each time you add or prune a plant.


Whatever your garden size, try to plant at least one tree, even if you have to do it in a large vase, because it will immediately increase the value and the impact of the space. In general I look for the most suitable trees for the purpose that I propose. Those evergreens grow slowly, but once they reach the right height they provide a stable and also a good structure
amount of green for the whole year. Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter months, thus subtracting their shelter and protection, but in this way they allow more light to enter the garden when it is more necessary. They also often have particularly beautiful flowers, leaves, fruits and bark. Many are fascinating even in winter, with their skeletal branches and buds sprouting here and there.


Trees Combination of plants in garden design


The maple grows well in the shade and is very suitable for small city gardens. You can also grow it in large pots. The Acer palmatum (Japanese maple), in the varieties “Sango-kaku” and “Osakazuki”, has seven-lobed leaves which in autumn take on a splendid red color. Dimensions: up to 8 x 10 m.

Amelanchier lamarckii

Magnificent tree with one or more trunks. In spring it produces white flowers in the shape of a star and bronze leaves which over time become dark green and then, in autumn, a beautiful orange-red. Dimensions: up to 10 x 12 m.

Arbutus andrachne (Greek strawberry tree)

It has shiny evergreen leaves and a cinnamon-colored trunk. The white flowers recall pretty bells, the fruit is a berry similar to that of the common strawberry tree. It is edible, but does not taste good! Dimensions: up to 6 x 6 m.

Betula pendula (white birch)

The white birch is ideal in city gardens and the white and scaly bark can alone give vivacity to the garden during the winter months. The Betula utilis jacquemontii (Himalayan birch) has a magnificent color in autumn, when the leaves become light yellow, while in spring it produces yellow flowers collected in catkins. Dimensions: up to 18 x 10 m.

Cercis silíquastrum (Judas tree)

In spring, clusters of pink flowers similar to those of peas bloom from the bare branches, coating the tree before it leaves the leaves. From the end of the summer onwards, purple-red pendent pods appear that last until winter, while the leaves become light yellow and then mahogany-colored. Dimensions: up to 10 x 10 m.


There are many varieties, shrubby and arboreal. The Magnolia grandiflora is an evergreen that can give the garden a certain refinement, thanks to its large cream flowers with an intense scent that bloom in August. But consider that it can take years to flourish. Dimensions: up to 18 x 15 m.

Malus sylvestris (wild apple)

It is an ideal plant to stimulate the development of fauna and have a different effect in every season. The Malus floribunda (Japanese flowering apple tree) produces pink buds that in the second half of the spring open in white or pale pink flowers, followed in autumn by small golden yellow fruits that often last even in winter and are highly appreciated by birds. Dimensions: up to 10 x 10 m.

European olea (olive)

This elegant evergreen with silver-gray leaves, which in summer produces small, creamy white flowers, is more robust than it looks and is perfect for sheltered and sunny areas. Dimensions: up to 10 x 10 m.

Prunus (cherry)

In spring the ornamental cherry tree is extraordinary. One of my favorite remains the Prunus subhirtella autumnalis (autumn cherry tree) that already in the milder periods of winter is covered with pink buds and white flowers. Dimensions: up to 8 x 8 m.

Sorbus Isorbol

We love almost all the rowan varieties because they reflect the characteristics of each season. The Sorbus vilmorinii has pinnate leaves that become crimson in the autumn. At the white flowers blossomed at the end of spring replaced in autumn clusters of berries that change from red to pink, to become white. Dimensions: up to 5 x 5 m.


The shrubs form a permanent plant structure of intermediate height, which proves valuable in many urban gardens, where limited space and trees would be too large. Many shrubs can be cut, pruned or shaped in various shapes and heights, so as to remain always proportionate to the rest of the garden or to create screens and plant barriers where necessary. Spring flowering shrubs are ideal for providing a green background to perennials, especially in autumn. In general, the shrub species are rather resistant and once planted do not require much work except, occasionally, a nice pruning.

Shrubs Combination of plants in garden design


Abelia “Edward Goucher”

This semi-evergreen shrub requires good sun exposure and well-drained soil. Throughout the summer its arched branches are covered with pink-lilac bell-shaped flowers and shiny bronze leaves which then become dark green. Dimensions: up to 1,5 x 2 m.
Buxus (boxwood) Nothing will contribute to the style of your garden more than a well-maintained evergreen boxwood. It is a frost-resistant shrub that grows in the sun or in the shade. You can also cut it so you get fun shapes and decorative bushes. It grows very slowly, so it requires patience. There are about seventy species of various sizes.

Ceratostigma willmottianum (plumbago blue)

Deciduous shrub with a slow-growing, rounded shape. From the end of the summer and throughout the fall it produces flowers that make a magnificent effect next to the bordeaux autumn leaves. In spring it requires a radical pruning. It resists frost but needs sun. Dimensions: up to 1 x 1.5 m.

Convolvulus cneorum Turkish ivywheel)

It is a variety of evergreen, silvery, silvery-like leaves which produce funnel-shaped white flowers from late spring to early summer. It grows well in the sun in well-drained or potting soil next to other Mediterranean plants. Dimensions: up to 60 x 90 cm.

Cornus alba

Some sanguines have lively winter stems. This has green leaves and crimson stems. It grows better as a plant with several stalks and produces suckers – do not be afraid to prune it radically in spring, then, for stalks of intense color the following winter. Dimensions: up to 3 x 3 m.

Daphne bholua “Jacqueline Postill”

An extraordinary semi-evergreen shrub with an upright posture, which in late winter is covered with magnificent pink-purple flowers that spread its very sweet scent throughout the garden. It resists frost but needs sunlight. Dimensions: up to 4 x 1.5 m.

Hebe topiary

Thick spherical evergreen shrub with shiny green leaves slightly shaded gray. It is ideal for those who do not want to spend a lot of time on the garden. He often approaches more specimens to form soft “cushions”. Dimensions: up to 60 x 90 cm.

Hydrangea arborescens “Annabelle”

There are magnificent hydrangeas, perfect for city gardens. The “Annabelle” variety between April and July produces enormous inflorescences supported by long stems: spectacular white-green globes that can reach 25 cm in diameter. They are very sturdy plants, but late frosts can damage the buds, so if your garden is particularly cold, it is better to plant them in a sheltered corner or along a heated wall. Dimensions: up to 2.5 x 2.5 m.

Nandina domestica (bamboo of paradise)

Although not a bamboo plant, it has long leaves of the same type, which become dark red in the autumn. In the summer it produces white flowers instar and in autumn purple berries. Dimensions: up to 2 x 2 m.


delavayi In spring it covers fragrant white flowers and grayish-gray jagged leaves. The bushes take on a rounded shape but, if necessary, can be pruned after flowering. Dimensions: up to 6 x 4 m.

Pittosporum tobira “Nanum”

A graceful roundish shrub with shiny evergreen leaves, which at the beginning of the summer produces clusters of white flowers campanulate with a delicious scent. It grows in gardens repaired, both in the sun and in the shade. I often use it as an alternative to boxwood. Dimensions: up to 60 x 60 cm.

Pink glauca

Species of spontaneous appearance, with flowers of various shades of pink and yellow stamens. The ripe leaves tend to be red, creating a beautiful background for the purple fruits. Also known as Rosa rubrifolia. Dimensions: up to 2 x 1.5 m.

Viburnum opulus (snowball)

Massive deciduous shrub that produces white inflorescences similar to trellises from spring until early summer.It has small red berries and leaves which in autumn take on a magnificent reddish color.Dimension: up to 5 x 4 m.

This delicious composition uses a narrow white and green palette. The Viburnum opulus bush looks more disordered than the tufts of white or digitalis Iris or of the carpet formed by the glossy and rounded leaves of Asarum europaeum. The eye is guided towards the white birch trunks that sprout between the ferns.

Creepers and upright shrubs

Happens frequently in the city gardens, the boundary walls that separate the property from the neighboring ones are visually predominant, so much that it may be necessary to conceal them. Climbing plants and upright shrubs are perfect for this purpose; they also increase the amount of green without occupying large areas of land. Evergreen species, such as ivy or elliptic garrya, can be used to provide a pleasant background to the entire garden or any plant growing in front of it. The showiest climbers, like some roses and many clematises, will create spots of color and a luxuriant foliage, with a strong visual impact. Some creepers have a regular and easily controllable bearing, others are more savage and to survive they tend to invade everything that surrounds them. The good thing is that plants of this type can be pruned in a radical way, if necessary; in my opinion, however, it is better to be patient and, instead of planting a vine able to cover a wall quickly, choose one that will fill the available space in a rather long period of time.

Chaenomeles (flowering quince)

The ornamental quince is magnificent if grown near a shady wall. Their bare branches are covered with flowers before they catch the glossy leaves of a beautiful dark green. In the spring the variety Chaenomeles speciosa “Moerloosii” produces white and pink flowers with a chalice, and later some yellow-green fruits. Chaenomeles x superb “Crimson and Gold” has deep red flowers and golden yellow anthers. Dimensions: up to 1.5 x 2.5 m.

Clematis (clematis)

There are many varieties of clematis different in color, flower size and flowering period. Clematis armandii is an evergreen, has shiny and lobed leaves and, at the beginning of spring, fragrant white flowers. The Clematis Alpina “Pamela] Ackman” has blue flowers similar to lanterns. It also blooms at the beginning of spring, while the small yellow flowers of Clematis “Bill Mckenzie” appear in summer. Dimensions: up to 7 x 3 m.

X Fatshedera lizei (false ivy)

Climber with large lobed and shiny leaves, ideal for reflecting light all around in shady areas. Grows well along walls and pillars. Dimensions: up to 2 x 3 m.

Jasminum officinale (common jasmine)

There is nothing more delightful than the scent of jasmine on a sunny afternoon. It is a fast-growing plant, with white tubular flowers and delicate leaves, perfect for covering unpleasant huts and walls facing west or south. After flowering, remove the old branches to keep growth under control. It can reach 10 m.

Lonicera (honeysuckle)

Appreciated for the color and the scent that spreads, the honeysuckle can climb on fences and walls but tends to take on a disordered and wild aspect if you do not keep the growth under control. The Lonicera periclymenum “Serotina” in the second half of the summer has fragrant cream-colored flowers with reddish veins. Dimensions: up to 7 x 1 m.

Muehlenbeckia complexa

Climber with thin and flexible stems, small semi-evergreen leaves and star-shaped scented flowers. I often use it as a dark green coating and as a background. It may look a bit ‘wild when you let it grow, so do not hesitate to prune it if you want to use it as a hedge. Dimensions: up to 1 x 1 m.

Parthenocissus (vine of Canada)

I believe that Parthenocissus henryana is the most regular variety. It grows on the walls in the shade and has leaves with showy white or pink veins in the center; these in autumn turn to bright red, giving the plant an extraordinary appearance. It can exceed 12 m in height!


Pink Climbing roses are definitely traditional plants, but they can have a magnificent effect even in a modern garden. There are hundreds of varieties, but it is better to choose one that has a good smell, such as the “Albertine” Rose with salmon-colored flowers or, for those who have enough space, the “Veilchenblau” Rose with purple flowers. It reaches different sizes depending on the species.

Trachelospermum jasminoides (rincospermo)

Climbing with a very neat habit, with dark green leaves that reach the ground and which in winter become a magnificent bronze-red. In the middle of summer, it produces small white flowers, sweetly scented. It prefers sheltered walls and grows well both in the sun and in the shade. It can reach 9 m in height.

Vitis (vine)

Vines are resistant plants and some varieties, if grown outdoors, produce fruit all year round. In autumn they often have a magnificent color. You can grow them on pergolas to create shade in a sunny area. The Vitis “Brant” is widely used as an ornamental plant, because in autumn it becomes a beautiful orange-red, while the white strawberry Vitis produces edible white grape berries with a strawberry flavor! There are about 65 species, different in height and size.


Perennial plants produce a luxuriant herbaceous vegetation which, except in some evergreen species, is dried every year up to ground level. The roots survive for several years, cyclically producing stems, leaves, flowers, and seeds that enrich the garden with shapes and colors from spring to autumn. The grasses are perennials that can give height, movement, and light to the city gardens. Although some tolerate shade, they mostly like the sun and well-drained soils. The secret is to postpone pruning at the end of winter, so as not to ruin the magnificent shape they take in the cold months. Choose non-invasive bushy varieties and, if you want to divide them, do it in the spring (after the division do not like to be planted in winter soil).

Perennial sun lovers

Achillea millefolium “Paprika” A set of orange-red flowers with a yellow center, an umbrella-shaped inflorescence that seems to be suspended on the low, aromatic leaves, similar to ferns. There are many other varieties, with yellow, red or lilac flowers. They need good drainage and a lot of sun. Dimensions: up to 60 x 60 cm.


It has large dark green ribbon-like leaves and white or blue bell-shaped flowers. The “Black Panther” produces dark blue flowers that come from almost black buds, while Headbourne hybrids range from blue to white. Dimensions: up to 60 x 40 cm.

Echinacea purpurea

It has erect stems with single inflorescences, similar to daisies, from summer to the end of autumn. The flowers of the disc, golden brown, have a conical shape, while the peripheral ones are of a purplish red. It is a plant resistant, which will give the garden a nice touch of color. Dimensions: up to 1.5 m x 45 cm.

Helenium “Wyndley”

This sturdy, upright perennial plant looks great when planted in moist but well-drained areas. It has dark orange flowers similar to daisies, which can exceed 8 cm in diameter, with a protruding brown center in late summer. It is very close to the grasses and is much appreciated by bees and butterflies. Dimensions: up to 80 x 50 cm.

Perennials lovers of the shadow

Anemone hupehensis “Hadspen Abundance”

It has vertical stems with large open flowers of a pink tending to red in the second half of the summer. Dimensions: up to 1.2 m x 45 cm.

Arisaema sikokianum

Magnificent and unusual plant, more resistant than it looks. In spring, in each dark violet spathe appears a large white spadix in the shape of a club. Dimensions: up to 50 x 15 cm.

“Jackanapes” Crocosmia

Between the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn it produces magnificent two-colored flowers, red-orange and yellow, shaped like a funnel, supported by filiform and branched stems. The leaves are green and lanceolate. Dimensions: up to 60 x 8 cm.

Euphorbia amygdaloides

Thick and pubescent plant, with stems tending to red and shiny evergreen leaves, oblanceolate. The inflorescences, which appear in spring, are made up of yellow-cupped bracts in the cup. Useful for covering even dry and poor soils. Dimensions: up to 60 x 60 cm.


Many species of grasses can give a natural appearance to a garden. Here are my favorites: I promise they will not let you down.

Anemanthele lessoniana

Its leaves have a coppery hue that hides the base of the highest perennial plants. It reproduces spontaneously and in winter its flower heads are an important source of food for birds. Dimensions: up to 1.2 x 1 m.

Festuca glauca “Elijah Blue”

Small fescue with low cushions of evergreen silver leaves and flowers sprouting above the foliage. Excellent as a ground cover, to fill in empty spaces and for pot cultivation. Dimensions: up to 10 x 10 cm.

Miscanthus sinensis “Morning light”

An elegant Gramineae with subtle green and cream-colored leaves giving it an airy appearance. In the summer above the leaves emerge pink inflorescences. Dimensions: up to 1,5 x 1,5 m.

Miscanthus sinensis “Malepartus”

This plant can be very suggestive. In late summer it has plumed golden brown inflorescences that rise above the leaves. In autumn, flowers and leaves become a magnificent red. It is enchanting even against the light. Dimensions: up to 2 x 1.5 m.

Stipa gigantea

Beloved by architects of gardens, this plant forms low tufts of leaves and, in summer, high inflorescences similar to oats. Dimensions: up to 2.5 x 1.2 m.

Annuali e bulbose

Annual bulbous plants can give a touch of color to the garden where it is needed, for example at the foot of a tree or between two plants. You can also cultivate in pots to be moved according to your needs, to make the garden look flourishing. The spring bulbous should be planted in autumn and left to themselves, to then have the joy of seeing them emerge after a long winter. The great value of annual plants, sown personally or purchased in a nursery, is that they offer the possibility of experimenting with various layouts and color combinations, and of renewing the garden year after year.

Annual plants

Centaurea cyanus

Cornflowers create a magnificent effect when their intense blue inflorescences sprout among perennial plants. You can sow them in autumn and spring because they bloom in summer. Dimensions: up to 90 x 30 cm.

Cerinthe major “Purpurescens” (turtledove grass)

Resistant annual with an unusual appearance, with oval and fleshy leaves of a light blue-green with white, violet tubular flowers and intense blue bracts. Much appreciated by bees, they often reproduce spontaneously. Dimensions: up to 60 x 60 cm.

Cosmos (cosmea)

Cosmos bipinnatus is an annual plant rather resilient, with erect stems and delicate light green leaves, which produces white flowers or a lively pink-violet throughout the summer. The Cosmos atrosanguineus (chocolate flower) has velvety chocolate-scented burgundy flowers. Dimensions: up to 1.5 m x 45 cm.

Eschscholzia californica

Fast-growing annual plant; it does not need care, but only very sunny. It has gray pinnate leaves and orange, red, yellow or white flowers similar to poppies. Remove the withered flowers. Dimensions: up to 30 x 15 cm.

Helianthus annuus (sunflower)

Children love to grow sunflowers, which can have an extraordinary effect in the city. The “Russian Giant” has a flower head of over 25 cm in diameter. Alternatively opt for the spectacular “Black magic”, a very dark brown. Sow them and take care of them for optimal results! There are about eighty species of sunflower, ranging from 60 cm to 5 m in height.

Lunaria annua (coins of the pope)

This biennial plant produces purple flowers in early spring and, later, thin, translucent paper-like oval siliques that once dried can be left in the garden or used for flower arrangements. It reproduces spontaneously. Dimensions: up to 90 x 30 cm.


Grows better in the shade. There are about seventy species, some of which produce an excellent fragrance. The Nicotiana sylvestris is the most imposing, with large yellowish-green leaves and clusters of white tubular flowers. The different varieties are also distinguished by their size, between 20 cm and 3 m.


Its flowers look great in early summer. The Papaver commutatum “Ladybird” has bright red flowers with a black spot at the base of the petals, which seem to float in midair. The Papaver somníferum (opium poppy) has larger, cup-shaped flowers in a wide range of colors. There are about seventy poppy species (some are perennials and biennials), whose size varies between 15 and 30 cm.

Tropaeolum majus (nasturtium)

Annual plant, climbing or creeping, with rounded leaves and orange or red flowers. Ideal as a ground cover, it can also be grown on the edge of a raised planter. The flowers are edible, have a spicy flavor and are excellent in salads. Dimensions: up to 3 x 5 m.


Allium hollandicum “Purple Sensation”

Among the best ornamental flowers, with purple spherical flowers supported by tall stems, throughout the summer. Dimensions: up to 1 m x 10 cm.

Crocus tommasinianus (crocus)

The crocus blooms between the end of winter and the beginning of spring, producing one or two slender flowers. Colors range from silvery lilac to purplish red. Dimensions: up to 10 x 2.5 cm.

Erythronium “Pagoda”

A very resistant Erythronium variety, with pretty light yellow flowers in spring and large wavy and mottled leaves. Dimensions: up to 35 x 10 cm.

Galanthus elwesii (snowdrop)

Robust and perennial bulbs with large, bluish-green leaves. It has fragrant honey flowers that sprout between the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Dimensions: up to 22 x 8 cm.

Iris reticulata “Gordon” (iris)

Small delicate-looking iris, ideal for a raised planter or a rock garden. Between the end of winter and the beginning of spring it produces blue flowers with white and golden yellow inside, with a pleasant scent. Dimensions: up to 15 x 10 cm.

Muscari armeniacum (cipollaccio)

It is the best known variety of muscari. Its spikes of cobalt blue flowers look like inverted bunches of grapes. Dimensions: up to 20 x 5 cm.

Narcissus “Actaea” (narcissus)

Sober plant with white flowers, with the central part yellow edged with red. It blooms at the end of spring and spreads a pleasant scent. Dimensions: up to 45 x 8 cm.

Tulipa “Ballerina” (Tulipano)

Presents pretty long stemmed flowers, with extraordinary pointed petals of red-orange color. Dimensions: up to 60 x 15 cm.

Many exotic plants with flowers and leaves with a magnificent sculptural appearance grow well in the protected microclimate of the city. In addition, they integrate seamlessly into urban gardens because they match the impressive architecture of the surrounding buildings. However, most of the times, in the city these plants have a very different development compared to what happens in their natural environment: they produce a more substantial leafy plant thanks to the relatively rich soil, but they can not reach the flowering period, because the duration of the summer season and the intensity of the sun’s rays are not sufficient. Look for resistant species that can grow and appear healthy, with no need for protection or constant care.

Acacia baileyana (Australian acacia)

A rather tough evergreen shrub or shrub that survives outdoors in very mild environments. It has fern leaves of a silvery blue and yellow flower heads in the shape of pom-poms between the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Dimensions: up to 7 x 5 m.

Amaranthus caudatus (red tail)

Amata in the Victorian era, this plant also adapts to exotic gardens. In summer and in autumn it has long, blood-red pendulous inflorescences, which can reach 45 cm in length. Dimensions: up to 1.2 m x 45 cm.

Astelía chathamica

It has lanceolate leaves and, in spring, yellow-green flowers. It can suffer from the cold, so it is better to protect it. Dimensions: up to 2 x 3 m.

Beschorneria yuccoides

A succulent plant with long gray-green leaves similar to those of the yucca and, in late summer, beautiful red spike inflorescences, over 2 m tall. Dimensions: up to 1 x 3 m.

Canna x generalis “Durban” (canna indica)

It has a very exotic appearance, with purple leaves and orange flowers in summer and autumn. You can leave it in the ground, but it risks not to bloom due to frost. Dimensions: up to 1 m x 60 cm.

Cordyline australis “Cabbage palm”

Perfect to be placed in a disorderly flower bed or dominated by red, this palm-like tree has long, arched and lanceolate purple leaves. It grows better in large pots and during the winter it must be kept in places sheltered from frost. When it grows above eye level you can admire its magnificent trunk, similar to cork. Dimensions: up to 5 x 4 m.

Cyperus papyrus (Egyptian papyrus)

Elegant bushy rush; prefers wet places. It is not so strong that it can be left outdoors all winter, but in summer it will have a magnificent effect in a pond or in a tub. Dimensions: up to 2 m x 1,2 cm.

Eriobotrya japonica (Japanese medlar)

Large shrub or small tree, rather resistant if planted in a sheltered place. The dark green leaves, shiny and hard, are wonderful throughout the year. In warm areas, it produces bunches of fragrant little white flowers towards the end of autumn and edible orange fruits in spring. Dimensions: up to 6 x 6 m.

Hedychium densifolium “Assam Orange”

It has large, luxuriant leaves and, in late summer, exotic tubular, orange or yellow, with a delicate scent, collected in thick cylindrical bunches. It is a perennial bushy plant that can be planted in the sun or in the shade. Dimensions: up to 5 x 2 m.

Melianthus major (honey flower)

A shrub with a sculptural form, with deeply-toothed gray-blue leaves. It tends to expand rapidly, so consider the idea of tying it up because it retains a regular shape. From late spring to mid-summer produces Bordeaux flowers gathered in long bunches. Dimensions: up to 3 x 3 m.


Belonging to the family of grasses, the bamboos are used to create barriers, hide boundary walls or make a small garden more intimate. They prefer moist soils, especially in the early years, when they take root. Do not hesitate to remove the weak reeds, prune the low branches to show the stem or to prune overgrown plants.

Fargesia murielae “lumbo”

One of the best bushy varieties with relatively small leaves, perfect for giving the garden the appearance of a jungle. Dimensions: up to 4 x 1.5 m.

Phyllostachys nigra (black bamboo)

The slender arcuate reeds, after two or three years, become a mysterious raven black that counterbalances the light green of the leaves. Dimensions: up to 5 x 3 m.

Pleioblastus variegatus

Woody vertical bamboo with light green reeds and white and green variegated leaves. Dimensions: up to 75 cm x 1.2 m.

Edible aromas and plants

Traditionally, the garden has always been a productive place, and the renewed interest in cultivation has also extended to urban gardens. The advantage of products grown at home, to eat freshly picked, is their freshness, in addition to the absence of dangerous pesticides and hormones. Many of the aromatic herbs and edible plants that can be grown in the garden also have a decorative value and fit well with the ornamental species. Among other things, cultivating these plants is a great way to involve children in gardening and to induce them to eat healthier foods. In most cases even small spaces are fine, as long as they are sunny; many species are magnificent if grouped in pots or planters.


Ocimum basilicum (basil)

Sweet and aromatic, the basil is an annual plant with light green leaves. It should be sown in a pot in a sunny place; remember to remove the apical buds regularly to promote more vigorous growth and keep the aroma intense. Dimensions: up to 50 x 30 cm.

Allium schoenoprasum 

This perennial species with the sweet aroma of onion can be grown directly in the ground because the leaves similar to blades of grass and the spherical pink inflorescences in summer make it a lovely garden plant, loved also by bees. Dimensions: up to 45 x 15 cm.

Anethum graveolens

Pleasant annual species with edible blue-green leaves that can be detached and eaten eight weeks after sowing. If you let it flourish, it produces seeds with a more intense anise flavor. It prefers sunny places. Dimensions: up to 60 x 30 cm.

Foeniculum vulgare “Purpureum”

This variety of bronze or purple fennel is a magnificent Ida perennial plant not to be confused with the cultivar “Azoricum”, which is grown for its edible bulbs). It produces bushes of pinnate leaves and umbrella-shaped yellow inflorescences. Dimensions: up to 1.8 m x 60 cm.

Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary)

It is one of the oldest cultivated Mediterranean shrubs, very useful as an aromatic herb and as an evergreen garden plant. It has pretty blue flowers that attract bees and butterflies. After flowering, it should be pruned to retain the desired shape. Dimensions: up to 1,5 x 1,5 m.

Salvia officinalis

An evergreen shrub that can be grown easily in pots or in a flowerbed along with other plants. It has velvety aromatic leaves and, in summer, blue-violet flowers. The purple-leaf variety is even more decorative. It should be pruned in the spring if the stems are too long. Dimensions: up to 75 cm x 1 m.
Artemisia dracunculus (tarragon)
The French tarragon is tastier than the Russian tarragon and easier to handle. It is a perennial plant, with thin light green aromatic leaves and somewhat disordered stems; then try to plant it in a little point in sight. Dimensions: up to 60 x 30 cm.
Thymus vulgaris (common thyme)
A low-hanging ground shrub, the thyme can grow between the paving slabs, in the middle of the gravel and among small bushes. There are also species with golden or silver veins, such as
the “Doone Valley” and the “Silver Posie”. Dimensions: up to 10 x 25 cm.

Edible plants

Capsicum annuum (chili pepper)

Star-shaped shrub followed by many fruits. Plant the seeds inside, on a sunny windowsill, and then move them outside. The best position 6 the pit) warm and sunny. Dimensions: different according to the variety, but up to 1 m x 60 cm.

Lactuca sativa (lettuce)

In a city garden, 6 better to choose cutting varieties, such as “Lollo rosso”, which make a nice effect planted in pots and flower beds, and can be collected throughout the season. Dimensions: up to 15 x 25 cm.

Lycopersicon esculent (tomato)

Sow them in the greenhouse in late spring or buy seedlings to plant when the cold is over. There are many varieties, including “Gardener’s delight”, reliable and very common, and “Tumbler” in a creeping pattern. They need sunshine and constant irrigation. Dimensions: up to 2 m x 60 cm.

Phaseolus vulgaris (bean)

Beans are ideal for small gardens because they are both fruitful and pleasing to the eye. Dwarf varieties like “Andante” are perfect to plant in pots, while climbing species like “Isabel” or “Cobra”, which has unusual black pods, make an excellent effect if grown on a support. The dimensions vary considerably, but the dwarf varieties have a height of about 35 cm.

Solanum tuberosum (potato)

Easy to grow, 6 delicious if cooked freshly picked. Opt for a variety of novelties such as “Rocket” or “Swift”, or salad, such as “Blue Congo” and “Charlotte”, and plant them in deep pots. Dimensions: up to 75 x 75 cm.

Vaccinium corybosum (blueberry)

Beautiful shrub, with berries with a magnificent flavor. In part autocross, 6 pit) prolific if cultivated in pairs. He needs an acid soil, so if you do not have the right soil, plant it in a pot with an erosive soil. Keep the soil moist and place the pot in the sun. Dimensions: different depending on the variety, but up to 4 x 1 m.

Fruit trees

Fruit trees (men, peri, plums, and cherries) look great when they are in bloom and show off a beautiful foliage in autumn; moreover, if chosen carefully, they produce many fruits. Most trees need a pollinator in the vicinity and even those that produce better results when pollinated by another plant. They can be cultivated with espalier along a warm wall, which will keep the fruit tree and control its expansion. When choosing the point at which to plant it, consider its final dimensions.

Also read: Agapanthus (Liliaceae)