When we visited Pencarrow house in Cornwall earlier this year, we were told the story of how an 19th century owner, Sir William Molesworth, bought the first specimen of Araucaria araucana, and planted it in a solemn ceremony before a house party. Upon touching its prickly leaves, the noted barrister Charles Austin remarked “It would be a puzzle for a monkey”. His remark has given the tree its common name of Monkey Puzzle.

This is a macro of the end of one of the branches of a young Monkey Puzzle tree in a local park.

Monkey Puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana

I love sedums, they grow so well in our garden and require little attention. This is a low-growing, evergreen sedum which the bees have been buzzing around all day. After flowering I cut off the dead flower heads and pull up some of the plant if it spreads too far.

Pink sedum

This is an evergreen, spring flowering clematis, the flowers of which are a creamy white and have a gorgeous scent. It is a very vigorous plant, so I would advise you to give it something strong to climb up, with plenty of room to grow!

Clematis armandii

The flowers on this evergreen shrub are quite unspectacular and you could easily pass by without noticing them, if it wasn’t for the fragrance that fills the air. It is also known as Sweet box or Christmas box. They flower from December to February and are followed by shiny black fruit. Grow close to a path where you can appreciate the scent. An easy-to-grow shrub that likes shade and reaches about four feet in height. It spreads a little, but is not invasive – the new shoots are easy to pull up and you can give them away to your friends.

The flowers and fruit of Sarococca confusa

This Ceanothus ‘Yankee Point’ is in full bloom at the moment and it is positively hums all day long with bees visiting the flowers!

Ceanothus 'Yankee Point'

I would certainly recommend this shrub, commonly known as a Californian Lilac, if you are looking for a relatively quick growing evergreen shrub that is easy to look after. It likes a sunny, sheltered spot.

This Ceanothus covers an ugly, south-facing wall and every Spring is a mass of colour. It is self-supporting so doesn’t need wires. After flowering I prune it back to stop it getting top heavy, and restricting its width. It was labelled as growing to five feet in height, and eight feet wide, but it has reached around 15 feet high and wide and I keep it to this size by pruning.