Friday 22nd November 2019

Autumn days – but winter is on the way,


and ‘the rose hips are blood-bright,
spattered on their overwrought stems’
(from Chokecherries by Melissa Kwasny)
Plant Ident.
Time to look at evergreens – so important for the structure of a garden, particularly during the winter months.
Rhamnus alaternus ‘Argenteovariegata’
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This large, bushy evergreen shrub is a fabulous plant which can be clipped to taste.  Not fully hardy in extremely cold parts of the country, but vigorous and good in coastal areas.  The creamy-white margins of the leaves make it a particularly attractive choice.
Myrtus communis subsp tarentina
The small-leaved myrtle was known as the herb of love in the Victorian era and was widely used in wedding bouquets at the time.  It has large, pink-tinted cream flowers in the summer, followed by white berries in the autumn.  The leaves are small, ovate in form and a glossy dark green.  Tough and forgiving.
Griselinia littoralis
Litoralis means ‘of the seashore’, so this plant is a good choice for coastal gardens.  It makes a great hedge, but is equally good as a freestanding shrub.  Beautifully coloured petioles (the stalks that join leaves to stems) complement the leaves themselves, which have a sheen on the topside and are a paler matt green on the underside.  Raising the canopy on a freestanding shrub can transform and elevate its appearance.  (Makes it look posher.)
Santolina ‘Bowles Lemon’
There is a grey variety of Cotton Lavender, but this vibrant green form bears lovely lemon flowers.  Another plant which thrives by the sea, it makes a good small hedge and is also effective planted in groups and clipped into plump, cushiony shapes.  Prune in March.
Taxus baccata fastigiata ‘Aureomarginata’
Whilst it’s important to be familiar with the Latin names of plants, it has to be said that this one is a bit of a mouthful.  ‘Aureomarginata’ means ‘having gold margins’.  Fastigiata means ‘growing upright – having upright clustered branches, narrowing towards the top’.  A good description of the Golden Irish Yew.  Much favoured by Garden House, this beautiful evergreen is valuable for its architectural, vertical growth and its robust nature.
Elaeagnus pungens ‘Maculata’
The ubiquitous Elaeagnus is widely used in public plantings, from car-parks to country parks.  It makes an excellent hedge and is particularly appreciated in winter gardens for the splash of bright golden-yellow provided by its leaves, which have irregular green edges.
The tiny, white flowers which appear in the autumn are insignificant, but have a wonderful fragrance.  Another good plant for coastal areas.  Any stems with leaves reverting to plain green should be removed immediately.    
Jobs for the week:
Recently, Garden House held another Workshop on Rose Pruning, led by the inspirational Simon White from Peter Beales Roses.  (‘How-to’ guides are available from their website.)   The R.H.S. also have good publications available on the topic of pruning.
This week, Friday Group had a number of pruning jobs to tackle, including some climbing and rambling roses.  Ramblers generally flower only once a year and, as the name suggests, they ramble about and produce long, lax flexible stems.  They flower on old wood made in the previous year.  Usually, they have single flowers which are followed by rose hips in the autumn.  R. ‘Kiftsgate’, R. ‘Rambling Rector’ and R. ‘Veilchenblau’ are all ramblers.
Climbers, on the other hand, usually repeat flower, and the roses grow on wood which has grown in the current season.  They have stiffer stems and can be a challenge to tie in.  R. ‘Compassion’ and R. ‘ Cecile Brunner’ are examples of the type.
Pruning with our visiting expert
Sharp, clean tools are essential.  As is a plan of action.
Old, dead and diseased wood goes first.
Tying- in stems horizontally promotes better flower production.
But. there’s always so much to clear up and remove!
Plant up the big terracotta pots
Not bulbs, by any chance?
Thought so.  More tulips.
Best get on with it then
Plant Currant bushes.
White, black and red, please.  And why not add some Narcissi bulbs too?
Why not?  They’ll look wonderful.
Plant Crocus bulbs in amongst the paths
Eyes down in the spring…
…for tiny pops of colour
Nicely naturalistic
Plant up Hippeastrums
Crocks in the bottom are a good idea in these big pots
A mix of grit and multi-purpose compost goes in.  Then put in the Amaryllis bulbs, taking care not to damage their tentacle-like roots.  Bury two-thirds of the bulbs, leaving the neck visible.
Don’t forget to grit the top – or you can use moss.  Looks classy.
Then, once we get the hang of things, we can improvise with planting in jars too.
Layers of grit, compost, topped off with decorative gravel.  Think Isle of Wight coloured sand souvenirs
Oh, I say
Leave in a light room at a temperature of around 20 degrees.  Water sparingly to keep very lightly moist but not soggy.  10-12 weeks should do it.
Plant more Paperwhites for indoor-flowering 
Plant Alliums in drifts 
In the new bed, these are going to be a purple sensation!
I mean, these are going to be ‘Purple Sensation’
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Is this drifty enough?
Plant up Lil’s bed with Tulips, Lunaria and Digitalis
First, rake the soil
Cool raking action
They say honesty is the best policy
So, Honesty in first, then Foxgloves
Followed by the bulbs
Here we go……
Many hands make light work of bulbs
That’s funny.  I thought bulbs made lights work….
Oh, very good!
Plant up the special outdoor chair with ivies
Think of it as a Game of Thrones
Have at you!
A little more adjustment
And there we have it.
A hand-woven ivy-cushion seat.
Prune Rosa ‘Cécile Brunner’
A climbing rose which grows on the trellis behind the compost heap.
You may be beautiful, Cécile, but you sure are a prickly customer
A short breather, perhaps?
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Now, do be careful not to relax too much!
Prune the rambling rose growing in the apple tree
Sometimes ramblers are left pretty much to their own devices but there comes a time, when they may need taking in hand.  The long flexible branches are the flower bearing stems for the next year and, unless pruning severely, these should not be cut.  All old, diseased and dead wood can be taken out.  Keep the hips for Christmas decorations!
Where to start?
Help!  It’s rambling into my hair!
Be brutal!
Give it a short back and sides.  That’ll sort it.
Clematis vitalba or Old Man’s Beard.
The wild beauty of wild clematis


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