Three weeks into the no-longer-new year. No time to waste, it will be spring before we know it, and now is the time to get ahead. So, grab those gardening goggles and let’s go…
A plant much enthused about at Garden House, the Corsican, or Holly-Leaved Hellebore is on the must-have list. It was one of Beth Chatto’s favourites too. This evergreen, herbaceous perennial is magnificent in shady borders, where bowl-shaped, pale green flowers hang above leathery, prickly-edged, glossy-green leaves from January to March and beyond. The foliage continues to look good long after the flowers have finished. Once established, this will happily self-seed to provide you with replacements for the future. Ht. 0.6 m. A.G.M.
The Honey Bush. Odd, considering it smells of peanut butter! Gorgeous great glaucous leaves and stunningly architectural. Like things hot and dry (it comes from South Africa) and so may be cut down by frosts – but tends to grow back in the spring. Sometimes a little winter protection may be a good idea, so you can wrap with some horticultural fleece or add a covering of straw if temperatures are about to plummet. If it gets too leggy, it can be cut back to near ground level in springtime in order to keep it compact. Looks fab in a pot. Ht 1.5 – 2.5 m. A.G.M.
Brachyglottis compacta ‘Sunshine’
Grown mainly for its silvery-grey foliage, this easy, evergreen shrub used to be known as Senecio. Its slightly furred leaves catch the light and have a silvered edge, their reverse is matt silver. The yellow, daisy-like flowers divide opinion, but are not particularly beautiful. A good choice for a warm, sunny site and in coastal areas. Can make a good, low-growing hedge. Cut back after flowering to keep compact. Ht 1.5 m.
Arum italicum subsp. italicum ‘Marmoratum‘
This hardy Arum’s large, arrow-shaped, glossy green leaves are veined with creamy markings. In the spring, pale green spathes grow up through and above the leaves. Vivid orange-red berries are borne on them come the autumn. Likes moist, well-drained soil (particularly clay) in shade, and looks good below trees and shrubs as well as amongst Snowdrops and Hostas. Eventually forms a dense clump, so, although not an evergreen, it is good for ground cover. Ht. 0.3 m. A.G.M.
Jobs for the week
Onwards and downwards with the pruning. There are 68 Roses to deal with here, and they all need to be checked for labels as well. Apply some nurturing compost and remember to feed them after pruning. Give them a good watering if it’s been dry.
Prune R. ‘Wollerton Old Hall’
Here, the leading stem of this wonderfully fragrant Climbing Rose has been cut back, and the side shoots (at the bottom) shortened to a few buds, pulled down and tied in. This will encourage more flowers.
That’s another one sorted
Continue pruning R. ‘Cecile Brunner’
Note how the shoots have been pulled horizontally to encourage floriferous flowering in the summer. Properly professional.
Prune R. ‘Albertine’ and R. ‘Veilchenblau’
Meanwhile, not far away, on another trellis, the cutting back continues. Note the beautifully arched stems.
Prune Floribunda Roses
Including R. ‘For Your Eyes Only’. Required: one Bond-type to fulfil the brief –
Build a frame for Rosa ‘Meg’
Sounds simple enough. But those birch branches are not compliant nor very pliable… Basically, it’s a game of ‘Snap!’
Blast and double blast
Bravo! They tamed the dastardly thing
Prune Rosa ‘New Dawn’
And tie in onto the trellis
Mind the bird bath!
The lucky crew chosen for this job get to work in the greenhouse.
Seeds this week include these fantastic round Aubergines. Also, Padron Peppers. Hot stuff. Artichokes too.
All snugly tucked into compost in home-made seed trays. Purposely re-purposed plastic, possums.
It’s surprising how jolly the people working in the greenhouse can be on a really cold winter’s day. The rest of the group are always very pleased for them.
To be fair, they are very industrious
Construct an obelisk for Clematis Perle d’Azure
Prune the Clematis, which is a late, large-flowered variety in the Group 3 category. It requires hard-pruning before growth begins in the spring, right back to a pair of strong buds about 30 cms above ground level.
Then use birch and pea sticks to make a climbing frame for this spectacular Clematis to romp up. Diamond-shaped weaving may feature.
It helps if one of you is a Fine Arts graduate
She couldn’t possibly comment
Prune the Wisteria
Work on ‘Little Dixter’
Create an oasis of order and calm. It’s a process.
Ooh! Spot the difference. The tiered shelving has disappeared! How orderly and calm it all looks.
Work on veg beds
Take cuttings from prunings
For example, from Verbena bonariensis – before
– and after pruning
– and then the cuttings taken are potted up in the greenhouse
It would be madness not to
And the Crocuses?
They just keep on coming