Vertical Markets

Plants that can help protect a home

by Mark Rowe

Ian Le Gros, Head of Site at RHS Garden Hyde Hall suggests his favourite ten plants that can help protect a home.

RHS Garden Hyde Hall Flower Show opens today near Chelmsford and runs until Sunday, August 4, with a model ‘Safe & Secure’ crime prevention garden, worked on by Essex Police, the official crime prevention body Secured by Design and security product companies Jacksons Fencing, King & Co, Trimetals, Poulton Portables, Meadow Croft Garden Centre, Pragmasis, The Expanded Metal Company, Solon Security, DefendaStrip, Ring, Uwatch and property marking companies SelectaDNA and Smartwater.

Those ten plants that may deter intruders are:

Eryngium bourgatii ‘Oxford Blue’ & ‘Picos Blue’ (sea holly) – Eryngium can be annuals, biennials or perennials with simple or divided leaves, often spiny edged, and cone-like flower-heads often surrounded by an involucre of conspicuous spiny bracts. ‘Jos Eijking’ is another great Eryringium cultivar with intensely blue stems and flowers.

Rosa rugose (Japanese rose) – Rugosa roses are upright shrubs with very prickly stems bearing handsome, glossy, wrinkled foliage and fragrant, single or semi-double flowers in summer and autumn, often followed by large, tomato-like red hips.

Rubus cockburnianus (white-stemmed bramble) – Rubus is a thicket-forming shrub which has arching prickly shoots with a brilliant white bloom in winter. Pinnate leaves 20cm long with lance-shaped leaflets are dark green above and white-hairy beneath. Racemes of saucer-shaped purple flowers 1cm across are followed by rounded unpalatable black fruits.

Colletia paradoxa (anchor plant) – Colletia is a rounded deciduous shrub to 3m, with stems bearing many blue-green, flattened, triangular spines and small clusters of fragrant white flowers in autumn.

Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) – Berberis can be deciduous or evergreen shrubs with spiny shoots bearing simple, often spine-toothed leaves, and small yellow or orange flowers in axillary clusters or racemes, followed by small berries.

Mahonia × media ‘Lionel Fortescue’ (Oregon grape) – Mahonia are evergreen shrubs with leathery, pinnate leaves which are often spine-toothed, and clustered racemes of sometimes fragrant yellow flowers, sometimes followed by black or purple berries.

Berkheya purpurea (purple berkheya) – Berkheya can be shrubs, or perennials, with spiny, pinnately divided leaves and yellow, purple or white daisy-like flower-heads in summer.

Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ (firethorn) – Pyracantha are evergreen shrubs or small trees, with spiny branches bearing simple leaves and corymbs of small white flowers followed by showy red, orange or yellow berries.

Ilex aquifolium (common holly) – Ilex can be deciduous or evergreen shrubs and trees with often spiny leaves, small white flowers (male and female usually on separate plants) and, on female plants, showy berries in autumn.

Gunnera manicata (giant rhubarb) – Gunnera may be evergreen or herbaceous rhizomatous perennials, and range from small creeping plants to very large with huge leaves. The flowers are small, borne in narrow panicles or spikes and may be followed by small berry-like fruits.

Other plants include:

Juniperis horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’ – Creeping Juniper
Picea pungens ‘Globosa’ – Blue Spruce
Crataegus monogyna – common hawthorn
Prunus spinose – blackthorn
Ribes speciosum – Fuschia-flowered Gooseberry
Yucca aloifolia – Yucca
Hippophae – sea buckthorn
Chamaerops humilis – dwarf fan palm
Agave ovatifolia – oval-leaved agave.

For further crime prevention advice, visit

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