[Skip to content] [Skip to main navigation] [Skip to user navigation] [Skip to global search] [Accessibility information] [Contact us]

Get the Horniman look

Has the sun got you in the gardening mood? Want to see your garden burst into life with a dazzling array of colours?

Choose from some of our favourite plants from around the Gardens to get that Horniman look in your own backyard. Or if you've not got the green thumb simply visit our Gardens and see what we've got blooming.

Spring gentian (Gentiana verna)

The spring gentian may not be the biggest flower but it makes up for its unassuming stature with an incredible, vivid, blue colour. The spring gentian ranges from Ireland to Russia, but is currently only found in Teesdale in the wild in this country.

The gentian is known to attract butterflies and bees for pollination so is a great addition to any garden.

  • Spring Gentian, Spring gentian (Gentiana verna), Benjamin Cook
    Spring gentian (Gentiana verna), Benjamin Cook

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

The purple coneflower is a native of North America and a relative of the sunflower. You can find it in our pollinator bed. As its name suggests it produces purple flower heads which are a hit with pollinators.

The flower has long been used by Native Americans to treat various illnesses and the flower is still cultivated today for pharmaceutical use as it is believed to stimulate the immune system.

  • Planting for pollinators: help save the bees and butterflies, Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Andrea Benson
    Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Andrea Benson

Maltese Cross (Lychnis chalcedonica)

Given that its epithet references an ancient Turkish town, it is commonly known as the Maltese cross or the Flower of Constantinople, and that it originates from the steppes of Eurasia – it may surprise you to know that the Lychnis chalcedonica is also the county flower of Bristol.

As well as being a great conversation piece, the Maltese cross adds a spice of red to any display and a unique pattern too.

  • Planting for pollinators: help save the bees and butterflies, Maltese cross (Lychnis chalcedonica)
    Maltese cross (Lychnis chalcedonica)

Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

If you’ve got the space for lilacs at home we’re very jealous. Lilacs bloom in early summer and produce flowers that can range from lilac to mauve to white. They also have a habit of produce more flowers in alternate years.

Lilacs originate from the Balkans but are now found across Europe and North America having been first introduced to European gardens due to trade with the Ottoman Empire.

  • Lilacs, Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris), Benjamin Cook
    Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris), Benjamin Cook


Camellias can grow as tall as sixty-six feet so be sure you’ve got plenty of space before you go planting these, but the large flowers they produce are well worth it.

Camellias originate from East Asia and have been cultivated in China and Japan for centuries. Camellias are also of huge importance to the world as the source of tea and tea oil.

  • Camellia, A blooming camellia, Benjamin Cook
    A blooming camellia, Benjamin Cook