The Lust List

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Adiantum venustum
Origins and Habitat: Woodland margins, crevices and streamsides, China, Himalayas
Description:Evergreen fern with quivering fronds on black stalks that spreads by creeping rhizomes - very, very pretty
Aspect: Partial shade | Flowering Time: All-year gorgeousness | Height/Spread: 15cm x indefinite | Soil and Moisture: Moist, well-drained, moderately fertile
Notes: Simply the most delicate hardy evergreen fern around - put it absolutely everywhere


Alchemilla mollis (Lady's mantle)
Origins and Habitat: Meadows and light woodland, E. Carpathians, Caucasus, Turkey
Description:Deeply beautiful perennial with soft, hairy pale green leaves that catch water in diamond blobs, and sprays of acid-green flowers
Aspect: Sun or partial shade | Flowering Time: Early summer to early autumn | Height/Spread: 60cm x 75cm | Soil and Moisture: Moist, humus-rich - but it's pretty drought tolerant
Notes: The leaves are lovely in salads, and if you collect the dew off them in May (alone, naked and by moonlight, of course) it is said to have rather good anti-ageing properties


Ammi majus
Origins and Habitat: Scrub, Europe, N. Africa, W. Asia
Description:Beautiful annual with lacy umbels in white
Aspect: Full sun or partial shade | Flowering Time: Summer | Height/Spread: 30-90cm x 30cm | Soil and Moisture: Moist, well-drained, fertile
Notes: Lovely stuff for cutting and adding to other flowers or displaying on its own


Astrantia major, subsp. involucrata 'Shaggy' (Hattie’s pincushion)
Origins and Habitat: Alpine woods and meadows, C. and E. Europe
Description:Perennial with tiny flowers that are surrounded by a ruff of papery bracts (a term used to describe something between a petal and a leaf) with green veiny tips and pinky centres
Aspect: Sun or partial shade | Flowering Time: Early to mid-summer | Height/Spread: 30–90cm x 45cm | Soil and Moisture: Moist, fertile, humus-rich
Notes: Ridiculously photogenic; I seem to have more photos of this flower than any other – I see it and can’t resist. The flower dries very well, because of those bracts


Athamanta turbith
Origins and Habitat: Rocky slopes, meadows and scrubland, S.E. Europe
Description:Sensationally beautiful perennial which looks like lace – even the leaves are feathery
Aspect: Full sun | Flowering Time: Summer | Height/Spread: 50cm x 30cm | Soil and Moisture: Moderately fertile, well-drained
Notes: Grow lots and lots of this because it makes friends with anything you care to dump it in a vase with


Chaenomeles x superba 'Knap Hill Scarlet' (Flowering quince)
Origins and Habitat: Mountain woodland; a hybrid, so of garden origin
Description:Deciduous shrub with speeding branches that have scary-looking thorns (very good againstwall to put off burglars) and outrageous blossom that's so bright it's almost kitsch
Aspect: Sun or partial shade | Flowering Time: Spring and summer | Height/Spread: 1.5m x 2m | Soil and Moisture: Moderately fertile, well-drained
Notes: Comes in lots of colours, all delightful. Keep it trained, as the spines are lethal


Chimonanthus praecox (Wintersweet)
Origins and Habitat: Woodland, China
Description:Upright deciduous shrub which looks like nothing special but has a scent that will blow your mind. It has beautiful claw-like, waxy yellow flowers with a central maroon blotch on bare winter stems
Aspect: Full sun or partial shade | Flowering Time: November to February | Height/Spread: 4m x 3m | Soil and Moisture: Fertile, well-drained
Notes: May take a while to establish and flower for you but it’s worth the wait. Train it against a wall. One stem in a vase will scent your home for a week


Crinum x powellii 'Album'
Origins and Habitat: Streamsides and lake margins. This is a hybrid, but its parents hail from South Africa
Description:Utterly beautiful bulbous perennial amaryllis that’s been cultivated for the garden. Bears big white lily flowers with lovely scent
Aspect: Full sun, and it’s borderline hardy, so treat it nicely | Flowering Time: June to August | Height/Spread: 1.5m x 30cm | Soil and Moisture: Deep, fertile, moist but well- drained, or JI No. 2 in a pot
Notes: You have to have space for this plant, as it doesn’t look like much when it’s not flowering – but it’s so worth it when it is. You can keep it outside in all but the coldest areas


Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill'
Origins and Habitat: Mountains, E. Himalayas
Description:Evergreen shrub with exquisitely fragrant pink flowers in the dead of winter
Aspect: Sun or partial shade | Flowering Time: January/February | Height/Spread: 2-4m x 1.5m | Soil and Moisture: Moderately fertile, well-drained but not dry
Notes: Naughty mortal Leucippus disguised himself as a nymph to be near Daphne, but he carelessly showed his bits whilst having a bath and all the nymphs tore him to pieces. Apollo then ran after Daphne who changed into a tree. Hmmm


Dicentra spectabilis 'Alba' (Lady in the bath)
Origins and Habitat: Woodland, Siberia, N. China, Korea
Description:Wonderful, glorious thing that sends up sprays of pure white heart-shaped blobs on long stems. It's a perennial and a real cottage garden favourite and (hurrah) it comes in pink too!
Aspect: Partial shade, though tolerant of full sun as long as the soil is moist | Flowering Time: May to July | Height/Spread: 1.2m x 45cm | Soil and Moisture: Moist, fertile, humus-rich
Notes: If you pick a flower of this and turn it upside down, hold the little wings gently and pull them apart, you will see the lady in her bath


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