The Cardoon is a relative of the artichoke. Both come from very dry areas of Africa and the Mediterranean. They are perfect if you have a big border and want a focal point. All summer their craggy silver leaves spread out up to 70cm each way. They like a lot of space and sun and recently I planted two with Japanese Red grasses around the base which complimented their grey foliage. By the end of summer beautiful spires flower with purple thistle-like blooms. Even before the first frosts their foliage starts to whither. Many gardeners still leave the dried flower heads to stand like great Roman spears through the winter. In the summer bees love them and are often seen rolling around drunk amidst the stamens.
Sorbus cashmiriana, with it’s porcelain white berries, is a rare and very underused tree. It is a fantastic specimen tree in the front of a small garden or courtyard and peaks in the autumn. It is slow growing and easily shaped. You will know its siblings, the yellow and red berries of Rowan trees which are a favourite for street planting. It’s surreal glisteningwhite berries last sometimes until Xmas if frosts are mild.i