Three plants bringing colour and joy into our garden this January.
What is bringing colour and joy into your garden?
Three plants bringing colour and joy into our garden this January.
What is bringing colour and joy into your garden?
Every January I wait for a frosty morning to pollard the Acer negundo Flamingo.
Without the cold weather, even in January, the sap will pour from the cut wounds, which could over time weaken the tree. The branches provide a lovely winter grey blue colour.
This is done to maintain the beautiful leaf colours, otherwise it can revert to green.
Next the rambling roses.
Do you have a cold weather must do job?
Guest Publisher Leonie Creighton.
Leonie is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic gardener she is the minutes secretary to the Black Pear Gardening Club. I have invited her as guest publisher for this seasonally appropriate article she wrote for the club newsletter.
One of my favourite plants at this time of year is IRIS UNGUICULARIS (I.stylosa) Algerian Iris.
This lovely flower is native to Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey , Greece and Syria where it grows in light scrub,open pine woods and rocky places.
It flowers from late autumn to early spring when so few plants are in flower. The flowers are beautifully scented, in shades of lavender to deep violet with a yellow throat.
This winter flowering Iris is easy to grow in well drained soil in full sun. Plant near a wall to help maintain the soils heat. I grow it in a raised bed that’s in full sunlight for most of the day, but that said I also grow it in a woodland area in partial sunlight and it is still happy but doesn’t flower quite so well. It is also useful to grow at the base of clematis as they like their heads in the sun and their roots in shade and it helps to hide the bare base of the clematis and keep its roots cool.
Plant it so that the rhizomes are just below the surface of the soil and 10cm (4in) apart.
It produces an evergreen mound of narrow, arching grass like foliage. This foliage does become brown and bit untidy but can easily be trimmed back to keep it looking good.
A top dressing of bone meal or potash in either autumn or spring is beneficial but look out for snails hiding among the leaves.
It dislikes being moved, but if you have to disturb it do it in spring after flowering. It may sulk for a while before it starts to flower again.
This is a long lived plant. I grow the species variety from divisions taken off my mother’s plant that has been growing in her garden for probably fifty years.
Two other very nice named varieties are ‘Mary Barnard’ which has a lovely velvety blue-purple flower, a much more intense colour than the species.
Also, ‘Walter Butt’ a ghostly pale grey-blue , but with a heavenly scent.
Hardiness: Fully hardy
Did you Know : Iris was a Greek goddess, the personification of the rainbow, which she used as her pathway though the sky.
This December has so far been very mild here in Our Garden@19 with only one frost.
The cannas and dahlias are all lifted…..
….safely stored in the garden shed with fleece covering for the cold nights.
The tender plants are divided between the two greenhouses…
Two small areas have been planted with Tulips also Foxgloves, Wallflowers and Forget-me-nots, along with several pots in the hope that we will be able to join the village church open gardens in early May.
One of the many ‘Estate’ maintenance jobs for this winter was to replace the trellis fence between the White and Green garden and the Blue Borders…
It edges the path where the badgers enter the garden, I was concerned, due to its poor condition, they would push through into this area of the garden instead of following their usual path via the ground bird feeder.
With help from my brother, we managed to replace it in one day with Rebar steel mesh normally used in reinforced concrete, without doing too much damage to the climbing Iceberg rose.
In The Oriental Garden the Magnolia ‘Stella’ fury buds are forming.
One of my aims within the garden is to try and have something in flower or of interest in the garden throughout the year, this month it is the Hamamelis Moll Pallida (Witch Hazel).
Below is the last garden tour video for 2020, here’s hoping for a better 2021. Please turn your sound on select full screen, play and enjoy.
When we purchased the house, I designed the garden and the rear of the main border, now named the blue border, was planted with climbing roses, trained to rope swags. Unfortunately, the rope soon rotted and was replaced with trellis. Now several years later the trellis along with some of the posts required replacing this winter. With a coil of blue rope already in stock, I have gone back to plan A. The posts have been replaced, painted to match the colour scheme and furnished with new fittings. I also took the opportunity to remove two of the oldest roses. They came with us from our previous garden and there are still two identical ones elsewhere in the garden. Managing so many vigorous rambling/climbing rose was becoming quite hard work. (Old age, mine not the roses). These will be replaced with clematis, joining some already there.
You may notice, in the picture above, lots of plant debris on the garden. I recently read an article about the Melinium Garden at Pentsthorpe Natural Park in Norfolk, which we had visited in 2012. This garden was designed by Piet Oudolf, the internationally famous dutch nurseryman and garden designer, known for his prairie style planting. Historically, the many perennials and grasses were not cut down in the garden until February, to provide winter shelter for insects, and then removed to giant compost heaps. According to the article, they now cut it all down in small bites, or pieces, leaving it on the ground as a mulch, to continue providing homes for the wildlife.
While I do not claim this border to be ‘prairie planting’, it does contain perennials and grasses so I decided to experiment with cutting it down in small bites, leaving it as a mulch. I did this using garden shears if you had more to do you could use a hedge cutter (Mine has broken).
I will add my usual mulch on top of this in March, I do it then to smother the chickweed, which germinates here around that time. It will be interesting to see how it develops, I don’t think it will suit the tidy gardener. However, we are constantly being advised that as gardeners we should be a little more untidy to help the wildlife.
I will record progress with photos and publish them later in the year.
Have you tried this in your garden?
This article was originally posted on the website of the Black Pear Gardening Club by club member Julie Munn. With its seasonal interest, especially now we all have our Christmas garden gift vouchers to spend, I invited Julie as guest publisher for this post.
Winter Flowering Shrubs can add that much-needed cheer & interest to our gardens when the days are so long & dark after Christmas. As Gardeners, we are always working ahead & planning for the Spring, Summer & Autumn but Winter often gets forgotten & inspiration can be slow to come to mind when the borders look bare & uninteresting. In this article I aim to introduce some plants that can bridge the gap before Spring takes a hold & the welcome Snowdrops, Narcissi & Hellebores make an appearance. The plants which follow are all fragrant which is a bonus to the often, delicate flowers, as well as providing an enticement into our gardens when it’s cold & frosty. Winter Flowering Shrubs also provide nectar for any early foraging insects & provide a refuge for birds during harsh weather. Here are a few of my favourites.
Hamamelis or Witch Hazel are deciduous shrubs which have very fragrant, spidery, yellow, orange or red flowers in late Winter. They grow best in acid-neutral, well-drained soil in sun or part shade. Their growth is slow, but they need space to achieve their natural, vase-like, spreading habit. Hamamelis can be planted in a mixed border or as specimens in a lawn or Woodland Garden. They also have excellent Autumn colour. Several varieties are available.
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’
When planting Hamamelis, improve soil by adding well-rotted manure or garden compost especially if you have clay soil. Planting on a slight mound can aid drainage & ensure the grafting union is not buried.
Mahonia are large, evergreen shrubs &
are available in many varieties & sizes.
Their evergreen foliage provides excellent
contrast against other plants & leaves are
usually spiny. Fragrant, clusters of flowers
are a welcome sight from late Autumn
through Winter & early Spring, followed
by black or purple berries. Mahonia
provide good architectural structure in a
Mixed Border or Woodland Garden &
they tolerate part or full shade. Grow
Mahonia in any moist but well-drained
Mahonia x media ‘Lionel Fortescue’
Sarcococca are evergreen shrubs whose flowers have an intense, sweet fragrance in Winter & are an excellent addition to any garden. Sarcococca confusa is the most well-known variety with its small, creamy white flowers which are almost hidden by the foliage. They grow best in any humus rich, moist but well drained soil & prefer to be positioned in full or part shade. Their flowers are followed by shiny, black berries. Sarcococca can be positioned in Mixed Borders & Woodland Gardens but to enjoy the fragrance at its best, place near to an entrance door or pathway where its scent can be enjoyed. They make excellent additions to Winter Pots & Containers.
I grow S. hookeriana var. digyna which gives a pink tinge to its flowers.
Chimonanthus praecox, often known as Wintersweet, is a deciduous shrub with a multi-branched, bushy habit & is best for the back of a border or against a wall or fence, where they can enjoy some protection. The highly fragrant, yellow-greenish flowers appear along the previous year’s stems in Winter & early Spring & often have a reddish-purple inner petal. Their flowers can be easily missed until you smell the fragrance & then the hunt for its source takes over. The flowers are followed by fruits, capsule shaped which contain the seeds.
Chimonanthus praecox Mar 2015
They grow best in any well-drained soil in a sheltered position & enjoy full sun.
Daphne can be deciduous or evergreen shrubs & are available in a variety of growth habits. D. bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is one of my favourite Daphne’s & its perfume is a welcome fragrance in the Winter Garden. Position this Daphne near to a pathway, entrance or in an enclosed garden area, to fully appreciate the scent. The clustered flowers are purplish-pink & white & highly scented, followed by black berries. Plant in any moist but well-drained soil in full sun or part shade & it benefits from having a sheltered position.
Daphne can be placed in a Mixed or Shrub Border but choose the spot carefully as Daphne can resent transplanting.
Grevillea rosmarinifolia is an evergreen shrub which grows to approximately 2 metres & has a loosely arching habit. Its branches of rosemary-like foliage with each rigid leaf having a prickly tip. The flowers appear in clusters at the end of branch tip & are a deep red in colour & unusual in form.
Although the flowers are not scented, I couldn’t resist bringing this plant to the fore for its long flowering period. Flowering starts from late Winter & lasts through to late Summer. Grows in acid-neutral, moist but well drained soil in full sun. I planted my Grevillea behind a wall for some shelter at its base, but it now enjoys full sun & has achieved 2 metres in height.
Somewhat prickly to work around but tolerant of pruning & shaping. Fits well into any Shrub or Mixed Border.
These are only a few of the many Shrubs which add Winter Interest to our gardens. So, be inspired & once all your herbaceous borders have died back, look at your garden areas & fill in the gaps with some of these lovely plants.
Julie Munn – 14th November 2019 All photos my own
Gardening & Plants have always been my passion, my Grandad was a keen Gardener & I have a vivid memory of watching his large fingers pricking out tiny Antirrhinum seedlings into meticulously, straight rows in seed trays. This sparked my interest & I was hooked, as well as eating the warm, ripe tomatoes he offered when I turned up at his greenhouse door. My Parents are also keen Gardeners & Allotment holders & have always encouraged me in the garden & with Nature in general while growing up.
After working in the NHS & in my husbands’ engineering business, my son no longer required my attentions, so it was now my time to do something I enjoyed. I enrolled on an RHS Course at Pershore College & little did I know it was to be my home for the next 31/2 years. I passed the RHS Diploma in Horticulture, level 2 & also volunteered at Spetchley Park Gardens which gave me some hands-on experience. The staff at Pershore College encouraged me to continue my learning, so I stayed on for a further 2 years to obtain the Pershore Diploma in Garden Design, Level 4, which I passed with distinction. I have always enjoyed Art & the design element fed my creative juices. While at College, I started my own Garden Maintenance business & have now been self-employed for nearly 6 years. Mainly working in large gardens in the counties of Hereford & Worcester, carrying out Plant & Border Maintenance, all types of Pruning, Soil improvement, Propagation, the Control of Pests & Diseases & of course Weeding. I worked for 3 years in a Garden which was open to the public during the Spring & Summer months, helping with charity open events like NGS days as well as giving guided garden tours to groups & clubs, which I really enjoyed. I have had several Planting Design commissions & Garden Designs including a design completed on the Island of Jersey which was a real pleasure. I have a real passion for unusual plants & enjoy designing planting plans that provide interest all year round. I am now growing my Garden Design business as I really enjoy working with clients to help them achieve not only a lovely garden but one which they can enjoy & confidently manage successfully for themselves, with perhaps a little help from me, from time to time.
Julie Munn Garden Services
From all of us at Our Garden@19.
I caught sight of this Vinca flower in the spring border. Vinca difformis is similar to Vinca major, differing most significantly in its habit of flowering right from Autumn, through mild Winter spells to Spring.
Such a welcome cheering sight to find in the garden at this time of year, especially after all the rain and dull days of this autumn and early winter months.
A Christmas gift of Hippeastrum first flowered with six blooms, now on its second flourish with five blooms.
Plants can provide not only pleasure, also optimism with a feeling of wellbeing, very welcome during the dark days of January.
What is giving you joy in your gardening world?
Christmas and New Year are often a time for remembering lost loved ones. Imagine my surprise at seeing the rosemary in flower in our garden@19 this morning following a night of -2* frost.
Happy Memories and New Year.
Today’s snow brought a new visitor to the garden, for this winter, the Pied Wagtail.
From the RSPB website:
“The pied wagtail, Motacilla alba, is a delightful small, long-tailed and rather sprightly black and white bird. When not standing and frantically wagging its tail up and down it can be seen dashing about over lawns or car parks in search of food.”
You can read more at the RSPB Website.
Has the snow brought you any new winter visitors?
The snow has brought on extra demand around the bird feeding stations with the arrival of the Thrush family, most notably the Fieldfares and the Redwings. they come in search of any berries on the holly bushes and remaining crab apples. I usually add to this natural supply with cut up apples.
To see my previous post Feed the Birds visit:Here
Have you had some winter visitors?
I along with many fellow bloggers enjoy watching and feeding the birds that visit our gardens throughout the year. New visitors to our garden@19 this winter have been, a fleeting glimpse of a Gold Crest, a male Bullfinch and on the niger seed feeder, the male and female Siskin.
They are sometimes referred to as the Black-headed Goldfinch, living mainly in woodland in Scotland, Wales and Europe. As with many other birds they migrate south during the winter searching for food.
I managed to capture some pictures of them on the feeders.
I posted about the birds that visit the garden and the different feeds I offer here, last year: Feed the Birds
Have you had any New Visitors this winter?
These winter months are the time of year I try to carry out any ‘estate’ maintenance along with completing the pruning of the climbing/rambling roses, wisteria, vines, the apples and pear trees.
These all require the use of a ladder, which in the past has involved balancing on the top of a rather unsteady step ladder. Having some time ago reached the age where I don’t bounce so well and not wishing to add to the queues at the local hospital A&E department I have invested in a Henchman ladder. This is one of the best investments I have made in garden equipment. The ladder is similar to the Japanese tripod ladders, with adjustable leg heights to accommodate different ground levels and a bar at the top that you can safely lean into, so long as you don’t go any higher than recommended. This feature doesn’t seem to appear on the Japanese ladders which was the deciding factor for me when making my choice. They are made in the UK from aluminium and therefore very light to carry and come in different sizes. I did feel very safe using it this year, it can also serve as a coffee table!
You can view more details Henchman Ladders.
Two jobs required the help of a local builder, one has been the replacement of the walls to the raised herb bed. I originally built it, in 2004, with treated timber planks, as these have rotted away in places, I decided to replace them with new sleeper timbers.
This bed is also home to a climbing ‘Albertine’ rose, on the trellis, a red currant fan trained along the side fence and a standard red gooseberry in the centre. The new bed is not as big, therefore more of the herbs will be in either terracotta pots or the old galvanised bath and buckets.
The lawn just off the patio always looks a mess, especially at this time of year, it is not very wide and all the foot traffic passes through here ( human and animal ). I have had it edged with porous black pavers, to match the ones incorporated into the patio design. Wether the grass remains, in this small area, or is replaced with gravel, is yet to be decided. Another option is artificial grass, I am following Cathy at Rambling in the Garden’s progress, with interest, to see how she gets on with her small installation.
I have also edged the fence along the Green and White garden with the pavers to save having to strim the grass.
Our neighbour has a willow (Salix) tree right against the boundary fence by the Oriental garden. We have dropped several, so far unsuccessful, hints regarding keeping it pollarded to prevent it becoming to dominant.
I decided to remove the worst offending boughs, the main branches will be placed, in a corner of the garden, to become a wildlife sanctuary, with the whips along with some Cornus trimmings, being woven into a small natural edge to the bed behind the banana bench. The remainder will be chipped for mulching around the shrubs in the Oriental garden.
My compost bins are in a poor state of repair and need replacing. I have for two years, had one of the local authority garden waste recycling bins. This has reduced the need for so many bins here. I have replaced one with an extra leaf bin, this is such a useful garden by-product, either for mulching or adding to potting compost that I don’t send it away from the garden.
We have recently taken delivery of 400 NGS Worcestershire County booklets this month to distribute around local shops, libraries and any garden clubs we visit. We also have our county AGM and lunch this month, where we garden openers collect all the publicity material for our open days. It reminds us the clock is ticking ( I think I have heard that before with a french accent!)
We have been fortunate to have recently enjoyed some winter sun, thus enabling me to make some progress on the maintenance list, while enjoying the winter sunshine, entertained by bird song.
What winter maintenance projects do you have for your garden?
The village of Pirton, Worcestershire, was originally part of the Croome Estate and is located one mile north of Croome Park (now owned by the National Trust). Pirton Court was historically the home of Viscount Deerhurst. The village church, St. Peters, containing elements dating back to the C12, with its unique black and white timber bell tower has recently been in need of substantial repairs to the bell tower, the clock and weather vane.
This small community has undertaken several imaginative fund-raising enterprises and since 2013 they have held a Christmas Tree Festival. These pictures are from our visit this year. ( The red glow in the pictures are from the over head heaters.)
There were 26 trees, each one decorated, by a family in the village, with a different theme, some for fun, others in memory of absent friends or family.
Please tap each picture for the title.
The windows and doors were also decorated.
Warming cups of tea and cake were for sale in a marquee alongside the church.
Have you decorated your Christmas tree?