At this time of year as we are waiting for the new wave of bulbs to appear and start their flowering bonanza, once more I am so thankful for all the evergreens (or golds etc ) that I have planted around the garden. Not only do they add structure and form to the garden, but they are the backbone to all the other planting, when they in their turn take centre stage.
Now is the time when we see them in isolation, enjoy them and appreciate them for the colour, shape and texture that they bring to the borders. Also of course the wildlife makes use of them for overwintering and hibernating. In a few weeks all the birds will be frantically building their nests in most of these bushes where they will have dense cover.
Our Box balls are one of the most important features of the winter garden, they just need clipping to shape once a year at the beginning of June. We also have variegated ones planted up the drive that were grown from cuttings given to me by my friend Gill.
Euonymous Emerald and Gold is repeated in each corner of the Rose garden at the front and they really do look as if the sun is shining even on a dull day. Emerald Gaiety is the white and green variety and always brightens up a shady corner.
There are so many different varieties of ivy to choose from, dark green with crinkled edges, variegated with white or yellow, or all yellow, the choice is yours.Not only is it such a good plant for shade, but it is essential for lots of wildlife.
Conifers offer a new dimension to the garden, verticals, which contrast to the mainly rounded shapes of other shrubs. Their only problem is that they do tend to grow rather large so it is usually the case of chopping down and replacing when they have outgrown their alloted space or deciding to clip and prune on a regular basis before they get too large. This one will have to be clipped soon, it is getting too big for its space.
Osmanthus are a genus of shrubs that look like holly and they prick you just like holly!! I am keeping this one clipped to shape as they do tend to grow rather large. The leaves are always nice and shiny, the whole bush always looks pristine, I just wish it didn’t prick so when I am weeding round it !!
Eleagnus pungens maculata is another shrub which always looks as if the sun is shining. I think the only fault that it has is that it is very quick to revert to plain green. Looking at this photo I can see quite a number of shoots that will need pruning away, must put it on my “to do” list.
We have the plain green Lonicera forming a hedge by the kitchen window and also Lonicera nitida “Baggesen’s Gold” which we are trying to train into some sort of shape, not quite there yet.Their only problem is that they grow too fast and need more than one clip a year, but it isn’t too onerous giving it a little clip each time I am passing with the secateurs.
We have a few Pittosporum in the garden, a small purple leaved one called “Tom Thumb” and this one which is “Irene Patterson”, she could do with a quick trim, maybe when the frost is over ! Also one which is totally different, coming from China and not New Zealand, Pittosporum Tobira. This has much larger glossy leaves, more like a Choisya, and the most gorgeous smelling flowers in the summer. In the left of the photo you can see one of my carvings protected from the worst of the weather.
This Erica or tree heath was here when we arrived and was huge! I gave it a drastic prune and thank goodness it responded by sprouting again, it is now kept within bounds with an annual haircut after it has flowered.
We seem to have quite a bit of laurel, some as hedges, others as freestanding bushes.The hedges are plain green and just need clipping once a year. A couple of the bushes are variegated , yellow and green, and this white and green one doesn’t seem to grow as much as the others so doesn’t need clipping very often.
Choisya ternata is a good shrub for a semi shaded corner, lovely glossy leaves all year round, beautiful flowers usually twice a year with fantastic perfume, what more could we want from a shrub!!
This time of year is flowering time for Garrya elliptica, the flowers are long white or grey tassles. As the flowers open they get longer, ours have only just started and will end up about 3 times this length. A good shrub for quite dense shade where nothing else will grow.
A small shrub with flowers that have a huge perfume at this time of year is Sarcococca hookeriana. We have two planted just inside the entrance to the woodland and are greeted with their perfume each time I go to see how the snowdrops are progressing.
This Yew is a seedling of our big yew in the corner of the woodland. I keep finding seedlings around the garden, maybe I could make my own yew hedge! This one is being grown and trained to camouflage the pile of leaves behind it while they rot down into very important leaf mould, we have some way to go yet.
It is almost time for the Camellias to start flowering, but for the rest of the year their shiny evergreen leaves always look so clean and fresh. This one is “Jury’s Yellow” more of a cream really and shows up really well in the shade of the woodland.
The Rhododendrons follow on flowering from the Camellias, but all year we have the evergreen leaves making the bushes a solid presence in the garden. The leaves do change during the year, when the new ones first emerge they are sometimes covered in a white substance and look quite silvery, the undersides are also sometimes covered in a rust coloured indumentum. In the distance you can see another of my carvings covered for the winter .
Holly is the last of my evergreens to look lovely all year round, another plant which is essential for the wildlife in the garden. Looking at this photo I can see that it is being strangled by a bramble, more work to be done !! This variety is called “Golden King” but in spite of its name it is a female we have the berries to prove it!!! We have quite a few of the wild ordinary hollies in the hedges, so these must have been used to fertilise it.
The snowdrops are pushing through the soil, they are a bit later than usual this year because of the unexpected snow and ice that we had before Christmas, but hopefully my next post will be about one of my very favourite flowers, lets hope we have a mild spell !