Thank goodness for Evergreens. GBFD for January.

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.

Back garden

Back garden

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.

Conifer ball

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.

Box balls

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.

Lonicera hedge

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!

Cyclamen hederifolium

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.

Laurel hedge

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.

Euphorbia melliferra

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.

Ophiopogon p.n.

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

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.

Arum italicum marmoratum

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.

Front border

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!!

Phormium Yellow Wave

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.

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20 Responses to Thank goodness for Evergreens. GBFD for January.

  1. Christina says:

    Wow! Pauline, what a wonderful number of beautiful evergreen and variegated plants you have. I am envious of the Pittosporum, I planted a small one in the autumn that I hope will survive the summers here. your front garden with the Box is delightful. Christina

    • Pauline says:

      Christina, I have a couple of pittosporum, a purple leaved on called Tom Thumb, but I would have had to wade up a sodden lawn to photograph it! In the summer, the roses take over from the box balls and they can hardly be seen!

  2. pbmgarden says:

    Such a nice post Pauline. Your garden features so many interesting plants. Love your box balls! I’ve been thinking of getting a pittosporum to put in a container. They do grow quite large though so it couldn’t last there too long I suppose.

    • Pauline says:

      There is a small pittosporum Pbm, which would be suitable for a pot, called Tom Thumb and this one has purple leaves. The others do grow big, but can be clipped once a year to keep them to size if necessary.

  3. Liz says:

    Hi Pauline,

    Lots of lovely interest… I’m going to try to getmyself some lords and ladies – spotted some in my parent’s last year and will try to steal it this year 🙂
    Coming from a garden with almost no evergreen interest it is nice to see one like yours! Perhaps once I move I’ll attempt to add more in the way of evergreen, there’s no point now as I want to move (maybe this year we’ll have enough dry/warm weather to allow me to get the house painted!).

    • Pauline says:

      We also have lots of the wild Arum Liz, but much prefer this one with variegated leaves, hope you succeed in pinching some from your parents!
      Dry and warm enough to paint the house – that was back in the old days -before the floods!! Really hope you get your wish, our gardens could do with drying out!!

  4. Cathy says:

    It’s lovely to see all your evergreens, Pauline (particularly as it seems ages since I could see much green in our garden, even though it’s actually only a few days) – and your comment about the roses makes me realise why I hadn’t noticed your box balls before your winter posts. You are right about evergreens providing structure, and your garden provides such a good example. Thanks for sharing.

    • Pauline says:

      Hope you manage to see your garden again soon Cathy, you have certainly had such a lot of snow where you are. Our torrential rain today did turn to snow, such huge flakes but up till now, it doesn’t seem to be sticking. What will happen overnight is another matter!
      The roses in the front garden are billowing everywhere from early June until October, so the rest of the time it is up to the box balls to provide the interest along with the Euonymous Emerald and Gold bushes in each corner, it gives us something to look at when washing the dishes!

  5. Pauline – fulsome on texture. I have just been having a hideous grapple with filing my photos and found some from a Japanese garden in France where texture and texture (well shades of green too) is it. Thankyou for visiting my blog

    • Pauline says:

      Catherine, I feel we have to make the most of what we have at this time of year to create interest in the garden, so its up to the foliage to help us out! Wouldn’t have been able to write this post today, its been snowing all day long, can’t even see the foliage!

  6. Alberto says:

    Pauline, you always have so much to show in your garden! From the first picture of this post I fell in love with that pittosporum (it’s huge!), then at last you finally mentioned it, I thought it was a silver eleagnus of some kind. Very interesting! And God only knows how much I’d like to have that euphorbia of yours, your description made me very curious about the scent…

    • Pauline says:

      I forgot Alberto, to mention that the Euphorbia mellifera has the delicious smell of honey, it really is lovely carried on the air in the evening, usually in April/ May. I first came across it at Abbotsbury sub Tropical Gardens in Dorset years ago. I could smell the wonderful scent and just followed my nose until I found it!! The pittosporum is also a favourite which we clip each year to keep it about 8/9 ft otherwise it would cause too much shade for our neighbours.

  7. debsgarden says:

    You have some fabulous evergreens, and your garden highlights the variety of colors and form available. If you never had a flower, your garden would still be beautiful!

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you Deb, you’re very kind! Most of the shrubs I showed are near the house, further away,there aren’t so many evergreens. I just like something interesting to see from whichever room I’m in, without having to go out into the cold and wet if I don’t feel like it!

  8. wellywoman says:

    This wintery weather has highlighted that I need some more evergreens in my own garden. I have box balls in the back garden which have looked good and two yew cones in the front garden so I’m planning on introducing some more box balls into the front garden and a couple of shrubs at the back. My yew cones are either side of the path to my front door and ever since we bought them one has been a little on the podgy side whilst the other is more slender. I’m not brave enough to make the podgy one slimmer. Still it gives them some character. 😉

    • Pauline says:

      I like the sound of your yew cones WW. We have seedling yews in various places in the garden, maybe I ought to pot them up and start training them!! Had to smile when I read about the difference in size of your yews, this happened when I bought 4 fastigiate conifers which are now getting too fat, they are now all different shapes and sizes, some have grown much faster than the others. Maybe I could replace them with my yew seedlings which are now about 2ft tall, thank you!

  9. You have a wonderful array of evergreens Pauline, I love your box balls, very effective. I have a newly purchased Euphorbia mellifera waiting to be planted, something I have wanted for years but it wouldn’t have survived in my last garden.

    • Pauline says:

      Janet, you will love the perfume from Euphorbia mellifera, just like honey wafting on the breeze,make sure you plant it where the prevailing wind will bring the perfume to you, you don’t want it to go next door! It will love its Anglesey home!

  10. Anna says:

    I do like those box balls Pauline and am intrigued to know what is the plant growing amidst them. Euphorbia mellifera sounds like a real scented powerhouse. Would love to try it but have always stayed clear of euphorbias because I suffer from eczema on my hands as well as other allergic reactions to some plants 🙁 The pittosporum seems to be shining silver – what a beautiful and useful shrub.

    • Pauline says:

      I’m assuming Anna that you mean in the centre of the ones in the distance and not the grass growing through the one in the foreground! In the bed in the centre are 4 Bonica rose bushes and 4 Gemma roses and a bit of Eyonymous growing up a plinth that normally has my carving of a pile of gardening books sitting on top, they have been put away for the winter and will come out again at the end of April. The titles are either famous gardens or famous gardeners, all topped off with a carving of a Little owl.
      Euphorbia mellifera is a lovely plant, I always wear gloves to garden as I seem to be allergic to sap from lots of plants (Beth Chatto is too so we are in good company!) and can honestly say I’ve never had a problem. The pittosporum leaves are green underneath, then stippled with white, some of the leaves are all white – lovely!

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