Friday 23rd November 2018


Berries abound at this time of year – here is the fabulous Cotoneaster horizontalis revealing why it is sometimes called the fishbone cotoneaster.

November continues – grey, chilly – but the log burner here at Garden House is toasty.  Provided you KEEP THAT DOOR SHUT!

Thank you.

Today we are planting garlic cloves and onion sets into pots which then go into the cold frame.  The garlic comes from the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm, which is a veritable treasure trove of garlic gorgeousness.  It’s important to buy from a reputable source to ensure that the garlic is virus-free.

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Garlic likes a period of exposure to winter cold to push it into growth – this is called vernalisation.  Take one bulb of garlic and separate the cloves; each clove will grow on to become a mature bulb.  Plant one clove per pot, at a depth of about 5 cms, in multi-purpose compost.  The top of the clove should not be visible.


Onions are best grown from onion “sets” (very young onions) and, if planted at this time of year, they need to be the Japanese overwintering varieties.  Traditionally, they are sown on the shortest day of the year and eaten on the longest; so pop that job into the diary for 21st December 2018 and 21st June 2019.  Here are two which we will be growing.











Plant one small onion per pot; pull off the wispy bit at the top of the onion, then plant it up to its neck in compost.  Only the very top of the onion should be showing.

Plant Ident.:  this week it’s all about Winter Interest.

Salix erythroflexuosa



A popular tree with Bridge, this makes a fine small tree or large shrub with decorative orange/orange-yellow bark.  It has contorted branches and shoots and narrow, twisted willow-like leaves.  In the spring there are silvery catkins.  Offcuts and shoots will root easily if pushed into the ground or left in a bucket of water.  Its winter outline is beautiful – and branches are popular with flower arrangers.

Viburnum opulus


The Guelder rose is a hardy deciduous shrub which flaunts these stunning jewel-like berries in the winter months.  Shining capsules containing the seeds of future plants sparkle in the sunshine.  When there is some.  Clusters of snowball-type flowers are produced in late spring and the vibrant red berries follow in the autumn.  It has a long season of interest and makes a good choice for hedging.  Does well on all soils, and especially on its native chalk downland.  Likes plenty of moisture, great for attracting wildlife and good as a cut flower in the spring.  What’s not to like?


Cotoneaster x watereri 


Cotoneasters  are actually members of the rose family and a number of varieties are available for the gardener to choose from.  This one is evergreen and is a large, dense shrub/tree which can grow to 5m x 5m.  It has clusters of white flowers in May/June and, later, masses of small, pendulous, red berries form along arching branches.  These last through the autumn and on into the winter months.  Bridge rates C. x watereri highly; it grows in sun or partial shade and tolerates a range of soil conditions.

Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’


And glow it does.  Firethorn is a strong-growing, spiny, evergreen shrub.  This one is particularly attractive with its glossy leaves, small, white, summer flowers and long-lasting, vibrant berries.  It is good when grown against a wall, where it can be trained by judicious pruning.  Cutting new growth back to two buds in late winter/early spring will keep these shrubs in check, and the resulting display will ensure you are the envy of the neighbourhood.


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Basically, the horticultural equivalent of a rottweiler.  The barberry is guaranteed to repel burglars of all shapes and sizes – and is, (true fact), often recommended by the police for planting as a deterrent against intruders.  Extremely spiky, but nonetheless attractive, it has small, attractive, yellow or orange flowers in spring, followed by lovely red/orange, translucent berries (barberries) which are edible.  Maybe serve them to your burglars, as you all wait for the police to arrive.

Mahonia x media ‘Charity’



An upright, evergreen shrub with striking, glossy, green leaves; it prefers a shady position in the garden.  Mahonia ‘Charity’ bears racemes of fragrant, sunshine-yellow flowers in late autumn and winter and the scent (akin to lily of the valley) is most marked in the evenings, when the plant’s main pollinators (bats and flies) are about.  Small, deep purple berries follow on from the flowers, and these are enjoyed by birds.  Unsurprisingly, the R.H.S. recommend this shrub as attractive to wildlife.  Just think of the good you would be doing by planting it – after all, Charity begins at home.


Jobs for the week

  • Plant up more bulbs for indoor flowering at Christmas and afterwards.


You can never have too many.


My word.  Nicely top-dressed.

  • Write labels for the tulips.  


                With artistic flair, if possible.  In good hands here.

  • Remove mint from large metal troughs. Replant with blueberries and bulbs


  • Plant garlic cloves and onion sets in cells


  • Plant up the pots in the front garden


There will be a white/green theme here.

  • Plant Narcissi ‘Thalia’ and ‘Minnow’ with muscari in troughs


  • Plant species tulip bulbs in the alpine sinks and on the rockery


Groups of five or seven bulbs will look great.

And no yodelling in the alpine area.

  • Remove salvias and plectranthus and plant Rembrandt tulips in the metal planter in the top garden
  • Plant black parrot tulips and wallflowers in the three large pots by the greenhouse


  • Plant alliums in quantity outside the Garden Room


She’s painting a picture of the allium fest to follow….


They’re going in here, here and…



And now, we’re back where we started at the beginning of the day


The onion sets are set, and ready to go into…


…the cold frame, which awaits the little beauties.

So, that’s game, sets and match to Friday Group.