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16 October 2014
Gardener's Corner

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Summer 2002
John Cushnie On...

Balcony Plants
1st November 2005

Balcony plants need to be tough to survive winter. Gone are the sunny days, replaced with cold draughts and horizontal rain. What is needed to entice you out through the patio doors is a range of plants with flower, leaf or berry.

Heather EricaThe best all rounder is undoubtedly the heather. It is used to the wind blowing through its foliage and most garden centres have a range of different winter flowering varieties to select from.

Another showy group of winter shrubs are the gaultherias.Gaultheria mucronata used to be called Pernettya mucronata. It has tiny, evergreen leaves and in winter the stems are plastered with pearl-like berries in white, pink, rose, crimson or mauve. A male plant is needed to fertilize the female flowers. Then there is Gaultheria. procumbens only growing to 6 inches high with bright red berries in winter. When they are crushed its evergreen leaves smell of Wintergreen.

Gaultheria ShallonGaultheria shallon can be a bit of a thug. It will grow to 4 ft high with pink-flushed white flowers followed by purple fruit.

The Christmas box (Sarcococca confusa) doesn’t make much of a show but each tiny white, winter flower is a perfume factory.

Again with excellent fragrance the large, spiny leafed , yellow flowered mahonias serve a useful purpose as screening providing shelter from the wind.

uniperus ‘Blue Star’Dwarf junipers are tolerant of icy blasts. Juniperus ‘Blue Star’ is low growing with bright blue-silver foliage. Juniperus hibernica will provide height eventually forming a tall, narrow column of tiny, grey-green leaves.

Where there is wooden trellis or balcony railings then the evergreen Clematis cirrhosa will wind its way, gradually covering the allotted space without becoming too vigorous.The cream flowers appear in late winter followed by attractive fluffy, silver seed heads.The variety C. c. ‘Freckles’ has creamy pink flowers speckled with red on the inside of the petals.

Dwarf bulbs such as the fragrant Iris reticulata will make splashes of colour during late winter. The flowers of I.r. ‘Cantab’ are pale blue with the lower fall (petal) deep blue with a yellow crest.

Snowdrops will manage to flower, irrespective of weather, brightening your day. Plant some primroses to remind yourself that spring will soon be on its way.

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