Friday 7th December 2018

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Rain meant that we were indoors for wet play for the early part of today’s meeting.  We spent a happy time looking at displays set up by participants on other courses.

Then, on to look at this week’s plant ident.

Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’

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Such a good, tough do-er in the garden, its yellow-green colouring adds a splash of colour to winter borders, bringing flashes of gold into shady areas and creating interest.  Can grow to 1m high x 1.5 m wide, and will climb if given support. Dependable as ground cover and a good foil for other golden or purple-leaved shrubs.  Any reversions (plain green shoots) need to be clipped out, cutting back to the original branch.  Good in north-facing gardens.  Excellent in most soils in the border and also in large containers.

Helleborus niger 

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Named for its black seeds, the Christmas rose was a popular plant with Victorians, who would use cloches to force them into flower for Christmas.  Enjoys partial shade/woodland areas and has lovely white or pink-flushed flowers from winter to early spring.  Cut old leaves right back in January to reveal the flowers better.  Ideally, use leaf mould when planting.  A semi-evergreen perennial, but can be challenging to retain in the garden from year to year  – maybe worth trying to grow them in pots?

Pittosporum tenuifolium

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A wonderful evergreen shrub, hailing from New Zealand. Stylish, responds well to clipping and has the most fabulous fragrance, emanating from tiny black flowers which are virtually invisible.  This variety (and there are many) has an attractive black stem.  Loved by flower arrangers.  Get one.  Or more.

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Getting up close and personal with those lovely stems

Eleagnus ebbingei

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This fast-growing, bushy, evergreen shrub is a common sight both near the coast and as part of many a local authority planting scheme. Basically, it’s a tough cookie.  It copes with sun, shade, wind, salty air and works well as a dense hedge.  Any soil will do.  Its motto? – “Bring it on”.  Long oval-shaped leaves are dark green and glossy on top, and an unexpected silvery-grey beneath.  In the autumn, small bell-shaped white flowers, (flowering on old wood), impart a delicious perfume, similar to that of dianthus.  It’s another shrub that scrubs up well, once in the capable hands of a topiarist.  There are a couple of other well-known varieties: the variegated E. ‘Gilt Edge’ and E. pungens maculata.

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Sarcoccoca confusa

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Christmas box is an easy to grow evergreen.  Beautiful fragrant flowers are followed by dark, glossy berries.  It does well in shade and looks good in containers – perhaps place a couple on either side of your front door over the winter months so you can enjoy the winter perfume?  Smart – and shows off your horticultural know-how.  Got to be done.

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Jobs for the week:

More bulbs.  More planting.  In pots.

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Turn the compost heap.  Put fresh compost on new beds

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And it’s her birthday too!  Imagine her delight.

Remove euphorbias from near the vegetable beds  

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Determination

Prune Euphorbia mellifera

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Take care with the milky sap of the honey spurge, as it is an irritant to skin.  Removing old growth encourages fresh new shoots, which will rejuvenate the plant.

Prick out seedlings in the greenhouse

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… and pot on plants which have rooted

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Now is an ideal time to plant out broad beans, onions and garlic – although perhaps a more comfortable job when it’s not raining.  This year, we shall ensure there is a pattern of crop rotation in the new raised vegetable beds.

Make a Christmas wreath from birch stems

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Decorate with hazel catkins and honesty and clematis seedheads; sumptuously seasonal

Prune climbing roses

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Decorate large pots with cornus stems

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Stylish.  And a known squirrel deterrent.

Let’s check back on those next week, shall we?

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Meanwhile. it’s all looking very festive in The Garden Room

 

 

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