I love whimsical gardens. When I think of gardens that fall into that category, my mind immediately goes to cottage gardens, that I lovingly describe as manicured chaos. The aesthetic is more free and natural, and less restrictive and orderly than formal gardens, but they are still very much a designed space. A type of plant that always leaps to mind when I think of cottage type gardens are plants with round flowers.
I’m not quite sure what it is about globose flowers, but that sort of look just screams whimsy! Today, we’re going to look at six plants with round flowers, or in many cases, flower clusters that are round, that can add a pop of excitement to your garden!
1. Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
Let’s start with a southern staple - bigleaf hydrangeas! Bigleaf hydrangeas are known for their big leaves, and more so, their spectacular flowers! The mophead types are easily recognized by their giant round flowers. Any shade garden is lucky to have a hydrangea to smile upon it with its gorgeous blooms. The flowers are nestled comfortably among the foliage, which makes this a more tame, but still enchanting plant.
2. Chinese Snowball Viburnum (Viburnum macrocephalum)
In keeping with rounded shrubs, we also have the Chinese snowball viburnum. This plant is always a stunner in the spring when its large, white, (round!) flowers emerge. The comment I most hear from guests is how surprised they are to see a hydrangea flowering so early! I certainly can understand the confusion, since this shrub definitely has hydrangea-like blooms!
I find the rounded flowers of the Chinese snowball viburnum stand out even more than that of a hydrangea. The flowers seem to be held a bit further from the foliage, making the pronounced roundness of their form all the more present.
3. Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus spp. )
Lily of the Nile is a perennial worth growing and one that’s exciting to see in the landscape! A narrow stalk rises above strap-like foliage in early summer and is punctuated by - you guessed it - a rounded display of flowers.
Pictured above are two types of lily of the Nile you can glimpse in our garden: ‘Queen Mum’ and ‘Peter Pan’. ‘Queen Mum’ has a bit of a larger, taller flower. It also has that marvelous purple and white within the flower that gives you even more bang for your buck. ‘Peter Pan’ is a little smaller and shorter and has soft purple flowers. For a funky plant, they still manage to maintain an air of sophistication and reserved poise. How do they do it?
4. Floss Flower (Ageratum houstonianum)
This little puff ball is delicate in appearance but has been tough for us in our gardens. Floss flower has been used both in containers and in the ground throughout the gardens and we can’t help but love it’s little poofs of round flowers.
We often use Ageratum houstonianum 'PAS347557' (High Tide™ Blue) and have found it to be a great addition to our gardens. It’s also a perfect addition to our list, as it checks off the box for round flowers!
5. Powderpuff (Mimosa strigillosa)
If we were to do a survey of my blogs and see which plant I feature the most, it would probably be this one. Powderpuff is great in so many ways. I’ve talked about it as a groundcover, I’ve talked about it as a fun plant that recoils when being touched, and now I’m going to talk about it as a round flowered plant.
As we’ve seen before, the flowers on powderpuff fit the bill. They are a rounded flower atop a narrow stalk and absolutely add a fanciful element to the garden.
6. Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena pulchella 'Fireworks' )
I saved the best, most dramatic for last - globe amaranth. As the name implies, you can bet you will see some rounded features from this plant. Here at Brookgreen, we have been using Gomphrena pulchella ‘Fireworks’, specifically, for the last couple of years. We love this plant and how tough it is, as well as how beloved it is to pollinators that, like us, can’t seem to get enough of it.
This tall growing globe amaranth is perfect for a hint of some planned “wild” in your garden bed. Its immense size (about five feet!) paired with its pink, rounded pops of flowers are a great addition to the garden.
BONUS! Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
Since I love sharing all these quirky types of plants with you, I thought why not throw in a bonus. Nasturtium doesn’t have round flowers, so it’s not totally in line with this post, but its leaves are round and something to behold!
These umbrella-like leaves are an added ornamental feature of this cool season annual. Due to this plant’s “Goldilocks complex”, as I will kindly call it, we unfortunately do not grow it too widely in the gardens. Nasturtium doesn’t like it too hot, so it’s not a good fit for our summers, but it also doesn’t like it too cold, and dies in a frost. Regardless of its pickiness, its rounded leaves are a nice sight, as well as its quirky (but not round!) flowers.
With all of these great options, you can be on your way to creating a garden full of whimsy in no time. Not sure where to pick up some of these great additions? Our Spring Plant Sale is fast approaching, and a number of these selections will be available, from our garden to yours! The sale will take place online the last weekend of April. Members will get the first opportunity to purchase. Not a member yet? You can join today here on the website! Also, make sure you are subscribed to our email newsletter so you get notified when the sale opens! You can subscribe here!
See you in the gardens!