At this time of year we look to all the evergreens that we have in the garden to provide interest and structure. Although there are quite a few flowers out at the moment, they are usually small like snowdrops, so you have to make an effort to go out into the garden to enjoy them. Strategically placed evergreens , golds or silvers can be seen from the warmth of the house and enjoyed for their various shapes, colours and textures.
This coming weekend is the Great British Birdwatch, when a lot of us will be counting the number of varieties of birds seen in the garden in an hour. Evergreens are so necessary for the birds to roost in at night, to escape from the sparrowhawk which whizzes round the garden at various times and for nest building in the spring.
Evergreens with small leaves can of course, be used for topiary, if you are so inclined with an artistic bent! Conifers can be kept to a reasonable size with an annual clip.
I feel that I have too many blobby shapes in the garden and ought to be more adventurous with the clippers! This Lonicera nitida Baggesens Gold will be a cone eventually when I can persuade the top to be more pointed.
I love my box balls in the front garden, they add interest for all the winter months and only need clipping once a year. They started off as tiny plants just costing 50p each and didn’t take that long really to grow to a decent size. The variety is Buxus sempervirens which doesn’t seem to get box blight, thank goodness.
Evergreens of course can be clipped as a hedge, this is Lonicera pileata just under the kitchen window, blackbirds are always busy in this area, a favourite nesting site.
My Yucca variegata is planted in very gritty, well drained soil in the alpine bed that we made in what was the old raised pond! The leaves are very pointed, it’s a devil to weed round, but always looks good, contrasting with everything around it. Have to get in wearing armour to remove the lower leaves!
I know, Cyclamen hederifolium leaves aren’t really evergreen, but they are with us for most of the winter. Such lovely patterned leaves, no two plants have leaves the same, some are even all silver like this seedling that I found right up against a tree trunk in the woodland.
The laurel hedge at the back between us and our neighbours was here when we arrived and forms a good backdrop to the shrubs and perennials in front, just one cut a year is needed.
This plant of Euphorbia mellifera is a seedling of the original plant which died over the winter of 2010 and it flowered for the first time last year. When flowering, the scent is wonderful and travels such a long way. The shrub is in the back garden, but the perfume reaches to the garage in the front, 100ft away. Many a time I have been putting my car away in an evening , to be greeted by the euphorbia’s wonderful perfume.
What started off as just one tiny plant of Ophiopogon planiscapus Nigrescens being planted in the gravel area at the back, has now spread to look like a sheepskin rug!
Pittosporum Irene Patterson is a lovely bush and so useful for flower arranging, I’m always snipping it!
Another shrub which isn’t gardener friendly is the Osmanthus by the front door, it is armed with sharp prickles and I have to wear protection when weeding around it! It makes a nice contrast with the hydrangea in front of it.
The blackbirds make sure that we have plenty of Arum italicum marmoratum in various places round the garden, places I wouldn’t think of planting it. The blackbirds love the orange berries which are formed in the autumn and then of course drop the seed with its covering of manure just where they fancy!
Euonymous Silver Queen is such a useful shrub for providing contrast in the border. It can be clipped if desired or allowed to grow ‘au naturelle’ or even planted by a wall when it will turn into a climber! Again, very useful when flower arranging.
In the corner, at the end of the bee and butterfly border is a hedge of beech and laurel with a camellia bush in front, next to a mahonia. There is always something interesting going on in this corner, either flowers from the camellia and mahonia or spring foliage then autumn tints from the beech, along with its brown leaves which last all winter. The camellia foliage is always so shiny and contrasts in shape with the mahonia, all this just to hide the wheelie bin!!
Due to the winter of 2010, lots of people found that Phormium were not as hardy as they had thought, I was one of them. One has died, two are still not looking happy yet, they are just a quarter of the size they were, but one is ok, thank goodness. Yellow Wave is in the gravel area at the back and seems to be recovering and growing back well but is still only about half the size it was in 2010.
As you can see, evergreen foliage plays a big part in the garden here and helps to keep the winter garden looking interesting until all the fresh spring foliage comes once more. So, I enjoy looking at it all and the wildlife enjoys living in it, that means we’re all happy! Had to go out in my wellies and waterproofs to take these photos, it was pouring down again and ‘they ‘ say it will turn to snow in a few hours!!
Many thanks to Christina at My Hesperides Garden for hosting Foliage Day once more, do pop over to her blog see wonderful foliage from round the world.