red rose, gate, walled garden, iden croft herbs

30 Plants and Features for Your Garden

This week, I have for you a list of 30 plants and features for your garden to inspire your own garden dreams. Now that may sound like a long list, but it isn’t. I’d say it’s just the start when planning or re-designing your garden.

To help with your initial planning ideas, I’ve broken the initial list down in to different garden elements or sections. These could be sub-divided further. For example, in the ornamental section, the plants could be listed by season of interest, or by type. As this list is about ‘what I would like’ thoughts, the plants are not categorised by soil and aspect requirements.

Another consideration in the real world would be the size of your garden and of your budget for the re-design and landscaping. For the purposes of this list, those are ignored, as a garden designer I need to know what you really like as, no offence, but I probably know better than you whether its achievable. I mean, that’s why you asked me over…


30 Plants and Features for Your Garden – Main Landscaping Elements

Partially Walled Garden
Many of us gardeners hanker after a walled garden as we know the walls act as radiators, enabling us to grow more tender plants.

Horizontal boarded Fencing
This stylish garden fencing would weave its way around the rest of boundary line. In other circumstances, it creates a more interesting ‘top’ to a low brick wall than vertical fencing would.

horizontal slatted fence, brick wall, wheelchair friendly garden, edible ornamental garden, garden fence, garden fencing

York stone terrace (sunny)
I love the (sunny) criteria here. York stone is a traditional paving material but can work equally well in a modern setting if laid in a formal pattern.


30 Plants and Features for Your Garden – Garden Structures

Tunnel arbour
Tunnel arbours were and are a prominent garden feature in many warmer climes where a hot summer sun sends people looking for a shady walkway.
As well as the practical element, they provide a support for climbing plants, such as roses and clematis. Rather than ‘plonking them anywhere’ tunnel arbours work best as a means of strolling from one area of the garden to another.
If well built in an interesting design, both metal and wooden tunnel arbours are a decorative garden structure in their own right.

summerhouse, trellis shadows, circular indian sandstone patio, garden design, landscaper

Not sure if this is a seating place for wet summer days or a cosy hideaway on frosty winter elevenses. The addition of a heater or log burning stove would certainly increase its use. It may of course be planned as a home office, games room, pool house, entertainment space. A versatile garden structure, make sure you allow enough room for table, chairs, pool table, etc.

Small greenhouse for growing and over-wintering plants
Not too small if there are a lot of lemon and orange trees to fit in, plus other tender perennials. I’m guessing this gardener doesn’t necessarily want to propagate many plants from seed, so flexible staging inside would be a good idea.

wooden greenhouse, automatic roof vent, guttering, decorative finial

Living willow structure
This can be used as many garden structures. Living willow is often used for play tunnels and wigwams for children, but would also make an adult-sized tunnel arbour, a fedge, archway, etc.

willow tunnel, first summer, bespoke living willow structure

30 Plants and Features for Your Garden – Areas

Small Orchard and Nuttery
‘A mixed orchard and nuttery including apple trees’ was this list item. Specifically, Coxes orange pippin and Bramley apples. To me, a delicious type of garden to design in more ways than one. For example, should we include local and heritage varieties? Is the area walled or part walled? Which native species, particularly spring flowering bulbs would thrive here? May we add beehives, a bug hotel? There’s more to an orchard than fruit!

Wild flower meadow with paths through
‘Nuff said. Except to check whether spring or summer flowering is desired. In this instance it’s summer flowering, with knapweed, scabious, ox eye daisy, birdsfoot trefoil for example.

blue annual cornflower, bee, wildflower meadow

Swimming Pond
A natural swimming pond, or swimming pool is a very individual item. The only consistent element in any natural swimming pool design is the division of the pond into two areas – the swimming section and the filtration area, or regeneration zone.

Small woodland area, with Bluebells
A managed woodland area, with native Bluebells, native and naturalised trees, shrubs and undergrowth planting.

Bluebell wood, hyacinthoides non scripta, native sopecies, managed woodland, bulbous perennial, bluebells

Utility area – shed, compost bins, water butts
A garden without a utility area is like a house without a kitchen – or something like that. Even the tiniest gardens have room for a decorative water butt. This shed may be a repository for garden tools and also function as a potting shed, bike shed and general store. The point being that decide how you’re going to use the shed, what space you have available and then choose your shed.


30 Plants and Features for Your Garden – Trees

Whether it’s a cordon pear tree or a huge sweet chestnut you’ll love your garden more for it having a tree in it.

Knarly old Olive tree
A reminder of Mediterranean holidays, Olive trees (Olea europaea) are hardy across most of the British Isles.

journey of life garden, olive tree, rhs hampton court

Specimen trees
Not quite sure how 3 trees sneaked into this supposedly single item, unless we consider them as examples!
Toona sinensis ‘flamingo’ (Chinese cedar) has wonderful juvenile pink foliage.
Betula utilis ‘Jaquemontii’ (Himalayan Birch) and Acer Griseum (Snake bark maple) both offer winter interest in particular with colourful peeling bark.

toona sinensis flamingo, chinese cedar tree, deciduous


30 Plants and Features for Your Garden – Edible Garden and Herb Garden

Edible Garden Plants

Vegetable patch
A productive area with both perennial and annual vegetables. Likely to include spinach, peas, courgettes and outdoor salad plants.

Rhubarb patch
With  a selection of early, mid and late season varieties; plus maybe some forcing pots – if you like rhubarb, you tend to really like rhubarb!

Lemon trees
I envisage the lemon trees in large terracotta pots gracing the York stone terrace during the summer months.

lemon tree, terracotta pot, fallen lemon, borghese gardens, rome

Some outdoors in the vegetable patch, others, especially cucumber and tomatoes – black Crimea, cherry plum – will also be grown in the greenhouse.

Grape vine
Desert grapes need more warmth than the UK climate usually offers in summer, so are usually grown with just the roots outside the greenhouse, and the remainder inside. Wine grapes are grown outside.

grapes, vine, grow your own, edible gardens, perennial fruit, grow your own

Herb Garden
Other herbs would be included, but Rosemary (blue flowered) and Ginger rosemary are particular favourites. Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) also known as culinary thyme, is best for cooking. Woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanguinosus) I see creeping in between the paving stones.

thyme, herb, evergreeen herb, aromatic foliage, culinary herb


30 Plants and Features for Your Garden – Ornamental Garden, Flower Border

Ornamental grasses
Including the tall Miscanthus zebrinus (Zebra grass) and fluffy Stipa tenuissima (pony tails).

To grow along the tunnel arbour, perhaps or against the house wall next to the sunny terrace.

wisteria, tulips, spring, Trerice, cornwall, cornish gardens

A mix of Hybrid teas, climbers, bush roses all scented, including Rosa mundi, Munstead Wood

rosa mundi, rose bush

Annual poppies
The lilac coloured ones are a favourite for the flower borders. Papaver rhoeas, field poppy would be in the wild flower meadow.

Santolina chamaecyparissus, evergreen aromatic silver foliage. Also known as cotton lavender, it makes a lovely low hedge for a flower border. And a perfect foil for Stipa tenuissima.

stipa, santolina, lavender, perennial planting, garden design, plantng design, garden project, ornamental edible garden

Planted near a gateway or shady door, you’ll pass by without noticing this evergreen for 9 months of the year. During the winter, however, you’ll receive a wow of scent that reminds you why its planted where you walk!

Rubus cockburnianus
Rubus cockburnianus (white stemmed bramble) is planted for winter interest. Its ghostly stems look particularly effective against dark evergreens.


30 Plants and Features for Your Garden – Garden Sundries

Outdoor kitchen
A small outdoor kitchen gives you much more versatility than a simple BBQ. Preparation space, grill, pizza oven, sink, storage; preferably under cover in case of rain, makes the serious chef very happy.

This was requested for the orchard. How dreamy is that, surrounded by buzzing bees and ripening fruit after a dip in your swimming pond?


This article, 30 Plants and Features for Your Garden, was inspired by Plews Garden Design’s junior partner Nathan heading towards his 30th birthday. 20th birthdays, whilst signalling the end of teenage years, often get lost in the miasma of 18th and 21st celebrations, so 30 becomes the more prominent. Although it does beg the question “why should birthdays ending with a zero require more of an acknowledgement?” One of the happy outcomes has been this list to give you ideas for your own garden.

If you’d like to give a loved one a special present for their 30th birthday and they’re a gardener, or would like to be, do please get in touch!

There are more birthday, anniversary and wedding inspired ideas in the blog links below to get you thinking about plants and features for your own garden.


Related Gardening Blogs from the award winning Plews Potting Shed

Flowers called Wedding Day
Pearl Anniversary Flowers
21 Favourite Garden Plants for a Special Birthday
50 Golden Celebration Plants for Your Garden
The Queens 90th Birthday – Patriotic Garden Inspiration