Plant of the week: Verbena 'Lollipop'

Hardy perennial with floaty, purple flowers from July to October.

What is it? Gardeners are always banging on about how they love statuesque Verbena bonariensis for its “airy stems” that create a “transparent veil” through which to view other plants. I’ve never been convinced, unless you have one of those 3m-deep, 20m-long borders we all dream of. Now along comes its compact cousin, V. bonariensis ‘Lollipop’, to blow my prejudice out of the water. This hardy perennial has the same long season of floaty, purple flowers from July to October, but with a height and spread of 60cm x 60cm, it’s ideal for a modest plot.

Plant it with? I’ve seen a rather charming combination of ‘Lollipop’ and the tactile, fluffy seedheads of the annual hare’s-tail grass, Lagurus ovatus: it’d also look great in a gravel garden with purple sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’), everlasting pearl (Anaphalis triplinervis) and a pink rock rose such as Cistus × lenis ‘Grayswood Pink’.

And where? In tiny spaces, plant it in a pot; in borders, plant in full sun if you can, though it will tolerate light shade. It’s not fussy about soil.

Any drawbacks? A warning for neat freaks: don’t cut it back until spring or it may suffer winter dieback.

What else does it do? Cut flowers to use fresh or dried in indoor displays.

Buy it Order three plants for £12.99, or six for £16.98 (prices include free UK mainland p&p). To order, call 0330 333 6856, quoting ref GU171, or go to our Readers’ Offers page. Supplied as plugs; delivery by the end of March.