Snowdrops are so hyped up this year that the clickbait on the BBC News website’s most viewed article on Saturday morning was Are you suffering from galanthomania?. Anything that sounds like an ailment evidently has the whole of Britain (minus those aware that a galanthus is a snowdrop) clicking away to find out if they have the symptoms. Well, it is winter.
I have recorded my personal pangs here, but wouldn’t go so far as to call it a mania. Muddy knees, sometimes; mania, nope.
But I won’t try to deny that snowdrops cast spells on us. Continue reading “Snowdrop-aholics in the news”
Want to make a, easily maintainable city garden? Just follow this plan, as illustrated above.
- Select your space. The heart of a medieval city is ideal (the more souls that can overlook the garden, the better), but almost any space will suffice.
- Create one or more organic shaped beds in the centre and another around the perimeter, leaving room for a sinuous, scrollable path (experts advise laying out the path first).
- Edge the beds in a stone coloured material, selecting a darker tile to define the perimeter border.
- Scatter shrubs, small, decorative conifers, grasses and herbaceous plants that can tolerate some neglect in the central beds. Keep it on the minimal side – you don’t want to crowd things.
- Artfully place decent-sized rocks in small groups or piles.
- Mulch with crushed slate.
- Add curved, benches that will invite passers-by to linger. Chocolate coloured metal ones will match those tiles around the outer borders.
- Fix trellises to the walls and encourage vines to soften them, creating the effect of a glade within a city (if you lack walls, add a fence or baffle first).
- If the same vines can be pruned low to provide ground cover for the perimeter beds, so much the better. If not, plant something green to do the job.
- Pave, staying true to the neutral, natural theme.
- In winter, tie the grasses up into neat bundles by wrapping a few of the long outer strands around the clump.
- Sit back and enjoy.
I think I’m in love with a small tree. Pink might be stretching a point – would apricot-pink be more accurate? Either way, it’s a striking colour for a tree – perfect for growing in a winter garden, when the bark and branches come into their own. Continue reading “Acer x conspicuum ‘Phoenix’ | Pink snakebark tree”
We set off for Harrogate on a whim, inspired by the weather forecast, and booked into a hotel within walking distance from the RHS’s most northerly garden, Harlow Carr, a favourite haunt. The idea was to wake up next morning to find an artistic covering of snow or a hard frost – the added winter garden ingredients only nature can provide.
The forecast had been an exaggeration but, luckily, it turns out that a winter wonderland doesn’t need snow: it can cloak itself just as wonderfully in reds, oranges, browns and greens.
We were too early to see the thousands of snowdrops, cyclamen, irises and eranthis hyemalis that will be at their peak in February and March. A small number of the advance guard could be spotted in flower in the woods, along the Winter Walk or sheltered in the glasshouse, giving a hint of the pleasure to come. But if you find yourself wondering whether a winter garden really has anything much of interest to offer in January, other than peace, you’ll find plant after plant lining up as if to say: ‘You misjudged me. You doubted there would be colour.’
At this time of the year, if you spot a glorious rose bush in full flower, the chances are you’re looking at a Camellia japonica. I have a particular weakness for variegated camellias, so it’s not surprising that this one caught my eye. Continue reading “Camellia japonica ‘Marchioness of Salisbury’”