Verbena bonariensis is one of my all-time favourite plants. Individually, it’s not the most showy or spectacular thing you’ll find in the garden (although its towering height is impressive), but it’s got a delicate, ethereal quality that I absolutely love. The tall sturdy stems can grow up to 7ft tall, while the tiny violet flowers sway and nod in the breeze with the weight of visiting bees and butterflies (both of which adore this plant).
It looks lovely dotted around the garden, but in my opinion, it really comes into its own when planted en-masse. During last summer’s annual trip to Guernsey, my husband and I discovered this stunning purple haze when walking through the gardens at The Fermain Valley hotel. The verbena was planted alongside an unidentified grass that was similarly willowy – I don’t think I’ve seen a more perfect way to line a pathway and would love to know the name of that grass!
Verbena bonariensis is perennial, which means it comes back bigger and stronger each summer, and has a long flowering season – always good news. I’ve had limited success growing it from seed, so this year I cheated and bought young plants from a nursery. They weren’t expensive and have shot up from about 30cm to over 6ft in just a few weeks. Inspired by the Guernsey garden, I’ve planted several in a sunny spot lining the gravel path at the end of our garden. From a distance, the wiry stems are almost invisible, so it looks like there are hundreds of mauve flowers suspended in thin air.