JOHN’S JOURNAL

My Top 5 Plants for The Winter Garden

It’s a time of year where the borders can look a little bare after all the perennials have been cut back, and with the leaves having fallen off the trees and deciduous shrubs it leaves us looking at whatever is left! Winter structure is always an important thing to factor into any good planting design and let’s take a look at the top plants to include for Winter interest.

TOPIARY BALLS – If you fill a garden with large evergreen shrubs it can look the same all year round, it’s good to embrace the seasons and if your garden is small then you need to think cleverly! Topiary balls not only look great in pots and containers but you can also repeat them along the front edge of a border to give continuity and lead the eye along your planting, then in the Spring when the sea of Alliums appear with their pom pom flowers the synergy between the two is striking! You also trim them twice per year to keep them nice and neat and feed in March and September with topiary feed to keep them nice and green

DOGWOODS – Belonging to the Cornus family these plants are well known for their rich fiery stem colour. With red, orange, yellow or black stems they magically change once their leaves fall in October. Give them a hard prune at the end of March every couple of years to help encourage the new coloured stems, they are also tolerant of a wet position in the garden so perfect for poorly drained clay soil.

HOLLY BUSHES – These will give you not only berries but there’s also many varieties with colourful variegated foliage. The male varieties bear the flowers and the female varieties then bear berries, don’t be fooled by the names though as Golden King is a strong growing female variety with golden variegated leaves! They are good in sun or shade and great for trimming in the Winter months to decorate the house with.

SKIMMIAS – One of my favourite compact evergreens with either male varieties forming clusters of attractive buds forming through the winter months, and then the female varieties are laden with juicy red or white berries. They are acid lovers so mix in ericaceous soil when you plant and they are great in the borders but also perfect for pots either side of the door with their very christmassy colours.

HAMAMELIS – and finally a delightful group of shrubs which flower in the depth of the WInter. Their tiny clusters of frilly flowers bear the most amazing zesty fragrance of oranges and lemons and they come in red, yellow and orange. Their leaves are also the same colour in the Autumn before they fall. 

So happy gardening and if your garden is looking a little bare and in need of some colour then pop up to the nursery and you will find all of the above looking their best in The Frameyard along with many many more…..

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Here you can send in and find out the answers to those gardening problems?

 

My Skimmia hasn’t flowered like last year?

All they need is a simple feed of Vitax Q4 in Spring also make sure they don’t dry out in July, if the leaves look a bit yellow that’s because they need ericaceous (acid) soil to replant in this and they will be nice and happy again next year

Can Hollies grow in pots?

They will happily grow in a John Innes No.3 soil and you also get some very nice varieties which are grown on a straight stem, or commonly known as a standard. These will then form bushy balls on the top and you can then underplant with other plants below. Again feed them well in March to help encourage lots of flowers or berries depending on your variety.

Do I need to prune Hamamelis?

They appreciate a prune as soon as they finish flowering, this way it helps promote bushy growth from the centre and your bush will then be filled with flowers the following year, simply trim the long stems back by ⅔ to an outward facing bud.

JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

1 – GRIT YOUR PATHS

With the frosts returning get some salt on your paths to prevent them from freezing, doing it now also allows it to soak in before the hard frosts arrive

2 – TRANSPLANT SHRUBS & TREES

Any plants which have been planted in the last 3 years can easily be moved, anything older just make sure you retain a good root ball

3 –PLANT EVERGREEN HEDGES

Evergreen hedges are a great way of dividing up spaces and Portuguese Laurel is our number one choice with its dark green pink blushed leaves

4 – GATHER LEAVES

Now that they have finished falling it’s a great chance after a frosty morning to gather them all up and have a good tidy of pathways and patios

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Helleborus Niger

Commonly known as the Christmas Rose with its upright stems bearing many pure white forward facing flowers. Great for including in pots and it can also happily grow in borders and flower beds. It will flower throughout Winter and is fully frost hardy, a perfect Winter plant.