Posted on 20 December, 2016Comments (0)

Garden Notes

Garden Notes

Now that all the fuss of Christmas is behind us it is time to take a close look at our gardens. Do you like the view, or does it seem to look a bit messy and cheerless. Have you got enough evergreens to carry you through till spring? Not just shrubs but ground cover plants that can form a background for your bulbs.

You do not have to have large shrubs like holly and laurel, there are plenty of small shrubs that will work. The sarcococcas, skimmias, hebes, choysias, daphnes and nandinas will all make neat evergreen domes. There are several pittosporums that do not grow very tall and the ones that do can be pruned to suit you. You could have box in its gold or silver variegated forms or the gold, variegated cream and variegated lemon forms of lonicera nitida, itself a rather boring shrub. If you then add the coloured stems of the dogwoods in red or yellow and the grey stems of rubus thibetanus you could have colour in the garden all winter. If you are planting dogwoods mix the vivid stemmed Midwinter Fire with green leaves with the gold leaved and cream variegated ones for summer interest as well.

Under planting with evergreen ground cover will complete the picture. In deep shade use Iris foetidissima, creeping Jenny in its green and gold forms, periwinkles in all their plain and variegated forms and ivies. In dry shade use euphorbia robbiae, bergenias and epimediums.

Hellebores, pulmonarias, heucheras and tellima will grow in sun or shade. The heather erica darleyensis and its cultivars will grow on acid or alkaline soils and needs some sun. For those with chalk near the surface there are the delights of dianthus, alyssum and the evergreen candy tuft iberis sempervirens.

Despite all these evergreens there is one rather boring looking deciduous shrub that I would hate to be without. This is lonicera x purpusii which has incredibly scented flowers in the depths of winter. Pick them in bud and bring into the house to enjoy them. I keep this under control and prune after flowering.

Stella Strachan

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