So spring has sprung.. or at least it’s springing! I’m not quite sure why new shoots and buds are so exciting but to all gardeners they really are! And in these times of ‘weird weather’ they are also, of course, a sign that a plant has survived the winter. Which I’m very happy to say is the case with all the plants that I planted in my garden last November and December. Hooray!
So before I get carried away with spring and planting lots of perennials I thought I’d do a recap on where I’m up to with my garden and the plants that I’ve already put in and why. You may need a whole pot of tea/coffee and a slice or two of cake to get through this one!
As I said in my last blog I want lots of permanent evergreen structure so when we look out of the lounge or kitchen window on a winter’s day there’s still plenty to see. And it has worked! Even though there’s still a lot of bare earth, we’ve been very grateful for the evergreens this winter and the Taxus topiary balls looked lovely with little snow hats! Some of the evergreens echo the overall formal design; Taxus (yew) topiary balls, Taxus baccata fastigiata (Irish yew), box hedging and Ilex aquifolium aureomarginata (holly) half-standards in stone planters.
I intend the rest of the planting to be informal and am trying to incorporate contrasts in form, texture and the shades of the greens. And, as I’m going for a mainly restrained, romantic, cool colour palette, I have restricted any variegation to white. Almost all the deciduous shrubs have purple foliage, so hopefully they will really change the look of the garden when they come into leaf – although they are an experiment in such a shady garden and may not produce the dramatic contrast in foliage that I have in my ideal mind’s eye!
So here’s a summary of the remainder of the plants that are in so far – the photos aren’t the best but I hope they give you a good idea.
Bed 1 – Left hand bed nearest house – Mainly shade. Rear of bed (left to right): Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ (architectural, winter colour, scent), underplanting – Pachysandra terminalis (evergreen, ground cover) Gap left for a Hydrangea – possibly the compact, green-flowered ‘Bombshell’, Choisya x dewitteana ‘Aztec Pearl’ (white flowers, scent) & Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’ (purple foliage, pale pink but unobtrusive flowers) you can’t see it in the pic, but it is there!
Bed 1 – Mid bed – Viburnum davidii (low growing, mounded form – visual anchor), Helleborus argutifolius (glaucous architectural foliage, white to pale green flowers) & Euonymus ‘Kathy’ (upright larger leafed form with white-edged foliage).
Bed 2 – Left hand bed furthest from house – Mainly shade. Rear of bed (bottom to top): Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ (disected purple foliage – unobtrusive flowers), Aucuba japonica ‘Rozannie’ (plain dark green glossy foliage), more Pachysandra underplanting. Gap for another white flowering Hydrangea – though I may change my mind! Skimmia confusa ‘Kew Green’ (compact, mounded shape for the corner – can you tell I like green flowers?!). Mid bed: Euonymus ‘Kathy’ & Viburnum davidii repeated.
Bed 3 – Right hand bed furthest from house. Sunniest bed. Rear of bed (left to right): Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ (purple lollipop foliage, unobtrustive flowers), Cornus alba ‘Sibirica Variegata’ (white/cream edged foliage, winter stem interest), Eleagnus x ebbingei (glaucous foliage – am intending some silver plants in this bed), Osmanthus x burkwoodii (dark green foliage, white scented flowers in spring). Mid bed: Gap on left for something small and evergreen, right; Euonymus (you guessed it) ‘Kathy’ repeated.
Bed 4 – Right hand bed nearest house. Mainly shade/some sun. Rear of bed (left to right): Aucuba japonica ‘Rozannie’ repeated, Acanthus mollis ‘Alba’ (architectural foliage and flower spikes, white form), Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ (long flowering period winter & spring, pale pink to white), Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ repeated. Mid bed: Left – gap for something evergreen, right; it’s that ‘Kathy’ again!
And… (nearly there now, phew.. plant Marathon!) last but not least please meet the climbers, which have been planted on each side of both arches…
the evergreen honeysuckle – Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’ (to permanently ‘clothe’ the arches, white & pale yellow flowers, scent), Rosa ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ (almost white flowers, shade tolerant, free flowering, scent) & Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’ (masses of deep purple flowers late summer & reliable) hopefully looking yummy with Mrs A. C.!
I’ve tried to use my head a little more than my heart by choosing shrubs that will provide a good permanent structure and a foil for the flowering perennials without their own flowers imposing themselves too much. Well, that’s the theory anyway! Happy spring everyone!!