Top 5 Sturdy Garden Plants for Dog Owners
Let me describe the situation! You have lovingly grown a favourite flower from seed. You have nurtured it though its early life, watered it, kept it warm and watched it grow. When the time is right you have found the perfect spot for it in the garden, planted it, tended it and kept slugs at bay. Your little plant matures and, in return for all your loving care, throws a flower spike high into the air. Every day you await in anticipation for the bloom to open.
Then, out of nowhere, a small furry labradoodle gallops through your flowerbed. She’s chasing her ball or seeing off an imaginary squirrel spotted whilst on her morning garden patrol! You rush outside to see the damage done. With a groan you notice your beloved flower spike snapped off in its prime. The maturing bloom lies forlorn on the ground. You turn to remonstrate with the perpetrator. Your dog just gives you her best “What me?” look. “I was just trying to protect you from killer squirrels!” her innocent face claims.
I am sure there will be scenes like this in many gardens this summer. Our furry friends have a knack of standing, sitting and lying on our most precious plants! Foxgloves, hollyhocks, delphiniums, lilies and daffodils are all particularly susceptible.
The answer is to grow more sturdy, robust plants! Plants that can take damage from a paw or furry backside and still recover. Even if a few stems or flowers are broken they will grow back better than ever.
So, from experience, here are my top 5 ‘dog friendly’ plants!
Fuchsias are resilient plants that grow masses of two tone pendant shaped flowers all summer long. Their flowers can be a combination of red, pink, purple, white and even black! Fuchsias prefer full sun or partial shade. They come in a range of shapes and sizes from those suitable for a hanging basket to tall bushes. I grow varieties that are hardy perennials. This means that they can survive a hard frost and grow back year after year!
I have one fuchsia plant in my garden of variety ‘Tom Thumb’ which will be 21 years old this summer! In that time it has been regularly buffeted and rolled on by two different labradoodles!
Heather is a dense, bushy, low growing evergreen plant. It has a sturdy, twiggy base and a soft top of greenery and purple, pink or white flowers. This makes an ideal mattress for a sunbathing labradoodle! Fortunately heather is used to similar treatment by sheep and cattle on moorland. So it recovers quickly with no long term damage. You can buy two different types of heather. One flowers in early spring and the other in summer. So I have some of each to prolong the flowering season.
Euonymus is a tough evergreen bush known for its bright variegated waxy leaves. It is ideal for those hard to fill spots in the garden and can tolerate most conditions including shade. I have a yellow and green euonymus that is over a meter tall and a smaller white and green version.
For some reason Florrie labradoodle uses this bush as her outside store cupboard. She drops toys, tennis balls, chews and biscuits into the heart of it and comes back later to retrieve them. Thankfully, the euonymus is a tough plant and can withstand this treatment!
Osteospermum is more commonly known as the African Daisy. As the name suggests it is a low growing plant with large daisy shaped flowers. They can be grown as an annual but there are also many perennial varieties that come back year after year. Their flowers can be various shades of purple, pink, white and buttermilk yellow. Some can have an almost metallic paint sheen to them. They flower profusely in the spring and can continue into summer if it is cool and wet. Osteospermum tend to stop flowering in hot, dry drought like conditions. It has vigorous growth so if one or two flower heads are damaged then many more quickly take their place!
Lavender is a silvery grey almost blue coloured shrub that thrives in full sun. It particularly enjoys dry conditions and poor soil. It produces blue and purple flower spikes in late summer. A lavender does not require much maintenance, just a trim after the flowering season. Brush against a lavender and it releases the familiar fragrance used in many scented candles and essential oils.
Most importantly for pet owners, it is a rugged plant that can be trodden on or hit by a football without much complaint. Florrie labradoodle regularly stands on my new lavender when she is getting a cheeky drink from the bird bath! Oh well!