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Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

A friend asked me what could she plant to give her interest in her South London garden at this time of the year, and heading towards Spring, and I came out with some hopefully useful suggestions (below), but I forgot to mention Vinca difformis ssp. sardoa (above). What a great plant for winter colour!

And evergreen foliage, which always looks vibrant and fresh. Its generous-sized flowers are a very pleasing pale violety blue, which flower from December until April or May and then again intermittently for the rest of the year. What’s not to love! This is no delicate little periwinkle. It’s a robust plant that grows to about 60cm high and it’s even starting scrambling much higher up an old tree trunk. As with other Vincas, it’s happily romping away in its shady spot, but it’s easy to pull up (and transplant elsewhere) if it’s getting a little too exuberant.

And she could also plant: Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ for a delicate wee flower and a stonkingly sweet scent,

Sarcococcas for more ‘knock-your-socks-off’ perfume (also with evergreen foliage),

Hellebores (this one above is the very upright ‘Anna’s Red’) flowering from now and well into March,

snowdrops popping up around now and into February/March (try Eurobulbs for great -‘in the green’ snowdrops to plant in March for next year’s display),

rich Chaenomeles blooms (aka flowering quince) for late February,

which I saw as gorgeous front garden hedging in Stockwell last year

(red and white varieties equally stunning-and great for supplying early nectar),

crocuses in Feb,

and Cardimine quinquefolia for delicate lilac flowers in March.

Plus all your Narcissi, Daffodils and Jonquils from now until April and May (start ordering bulbs for these in September for autumn planting). Above is Narcissus cantabricus, which I espied at Wisley back in 2014.

P.S. The lovely Wendy Shillam @Rooftopvegplot also suggests planting an autumn/winter flowering Cherry tree (Prunus subhirtella Autumnalis) for beautifully delicate flowers at this time of year. She’s not wrong.Thanks Wendy!

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Iris unguicularis Mary BarnardI just popped out to place a new bird feeder (more about this later) in the back garden when I noticed that this gorgeous Iris unguicularis ‘Mary Barnard’ has started to flower. I bought this plant last February at the RHS early spring show (this year’s show is Fri 21st and Sat 22nd Feb) and am very pleased to see it bloom so early as Hellebores and snowdrops are yet to flower (although my Eriobotrya is still in bloom).

Iris unguicularis Mary Barnard 2Mary Barnard reaches about 10 inches (25cm) tall, so I had to carefully get down on hands and knees to see if I could detect a scent. It’s a small and gentle perfume, but it’s definitely there (and possibly more on a sunnier day?). This Iris hasn’t taken long to start to clump up and looks like there’s quite a few more blooms to follow, so I’m quietly delighted!

squirrel acrobatically noshing from squirrel proof bird feederMeanwhile, other antics in the garden are not quite so pleasing. Here’s a furry beast gorging itself from a squirrel-proof bird feeder,

Relaxed one-legged approachand back again with the more relaxed one-legged approach. Although more than a tad annoyed that yet another attempt to feed the birds has been hijacked by this irritating pest, my fury is also laced with a sneaking admiration for such confident and agile acrobatics.

Still, an air rifle would come in handy every now and then! I hear they make a nice pie.

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Sugarloaf chicories in front garden

I’ve failed again! I’m really starting to get to grips with successional sowing over summer and have enjoyed months and months of lettuces (and other herbs and leaves) picked from my front garden. But despite actually sowing (and even buying) some leaves for over-wintering I didn’t manage to get most of them into the ground. The shame of it all!

So here I have my one success story. These are Sugarloaf chicories and I grew them as they come highly recommended by Joy Larkcom. Need I say more! I’ve been mixing these with the end of my summer/autumn lettuces, Sorrel and Sweet Cicely and have been enjoying some rather tasty salads.

Metal Hoops from Plant BellesBut as the temperatures are soon forecast to dip again, I’ve decided it’s time to do some wrapping up. I bought these natty hoops from Plant Belles some while ago and they seem just the ticket.

Adding bamboo canes for mini clocheYou simply thread a few bamboo canes through the holes in the hoops,

Mini cloche covered in fleeceEt voila! Covered in fleece, I now have my own cloche/mini tunnel to keep my chicories covered up during the coldest and windiest of months. Hopefully the protection should elongate the harvesting season for the Sweet Cicely and Sorrel too.

And I’ve left a couple out in the cold as I’m  keen to see how well they survive with no extra help.

Nicole collecting seeds from street HollyhocksMeanwhile, neighbour Nicole is collecting seeds from her ‘Halo Apricot’ Hollyhock, remarkably still in bloom in her tree pit. It’s a gorgeous variety and it’ll be interesting to see if the seeds come true or if fraternising with other Hollyhocks in the street will supply some interesting variations.

Cavalo NeroAlongside my Chicory, Cavolo nero is supplying some delicious winter veg,

Daubenton's perennial Kaleand on the corner plot, a small cutting of Daubenton’s perennial Kale, acquired from Charles Dowding, has come on marvellously. Looking forward to taking my own cuttings come spring and popping this very useful veg in many a new spot (sticks are there to deter foxes digging the plant up when tiny).

Beans to collect for seedsI’ve been meaning to do a final clear up in the corner plot for ages now, but bulb planting has taken precedence. However, all bulbs have been planted for both clients and myself (hurrah!) and it felt great to have time to collect the last of the seeds and clear up the garden for winter. Just a bit more leaf raking (GRrr..), a bit of mulching perhaps and then there’ll be plenty of time to catch up on reading and researching what to grow next year.

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