TOBY’S COMPANIONS FOR SHRUBS
Shrubs are often thought of as dull and uninspiring elements of the
landscape. Frequently inherited in a garden, they often do not fulfil their potential, and as they mature and grow can push out perennials as their shadow enlarges. By cleverly combining shrubs and perennial ground covers, you can extend the season and enhance the beauty of this versatile group of plants.
Making good companions -
By pairing two complimentary plants, you make the most of them both.
Philadelphus ‘Sweet Clare’ is a small leaved graceful, airy shrub that grows to about 1.2m. Its simple white fragrant flowers have a maroon centre, surrounding golden stamens. This maroon colour is picked up by an under planting of Heuchera ‘Regina’, whose silvery deep purple leaves, also reflects the silvery green leaf colour of the Philadelphus.
Extending the seasons -
Most flowering shrubs have a single flush of flower, usually in the spring or early summer, and then disappear into the background for another year. The simple addition of a clematis, or late flowering groundcover, will extend the seasonal interest right into the autumn.
Groundcover or herbaceous clematis come in many colours and forms, and scramble along the ground and up through shrubs. Clematis integrifolia ‘Alba’ with its white scented bell-shaped flowers goes beautifully with the dark purple foliage of Weigela ‘Purpurea’. After the lush early summer spray of the weigela flowers, the clematis will scramble up through the shrub, enjoying the shade on its roots and giving interest until September.
A green backdrop -
Deciduous shrubs, like cornus with their colourful winter stems, benefit from an evergreen carpet of foliage to best display their shape and colour. In a larger area a tapestry effect can be achieved with the use of several foliage types, providing a mini woodland effect.
Combining evergreen ferns like Polystichum setiferum with epimediums such as Epimedium × warleyense will give texture and year round interest. Foliage or flower colour can be added or with euphorbias like Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ or Cyclamen hederifolia. This type of combination will provide interest and a backdrop, all year round.
CYCLAMEN FOR WINTER AND SPRING
Cyclamen are a group of tuberous plants from diverse environments such as alpine and Mediterranean coast to woodland. As gardeners we can exploit this to our advantage, and by planting specific species, have these beauties flowering in our gardens for months at a time.John’s Garden is open for the National Garden Scheme on 12th September 2010
In flower now is the common Cyclamen hederifolium. Usually flowering from late August to September, it comes into flower before the foliage emerges. It creates an effect of tiny star like flowers, from white to dark pink, suspended just above the ground in swathes. The foliage can last until April, covering the ground in intricately marked silvery leaves of individual design.
Hardy to -150C Cyclamen coum, another common species, follows on from C. hederifolium. In leaf during the autumn months, flowers appear in the new year, and last until February. There are many cultivars, ranging from white to pink. Both of these species are best grown en masse, but not in mixed groups, let each species have their space.
C. pseudo ibericum picks up where c.coum left off and flowers into March. The colours available are pink to pale pinks and they require slightly sharper drainage, but are fully hardy. These work really well in pots of you do not have the space in the garden.
C. repandum is a common sight in the West Country in late spring. More of a woodland plant, it likes to be planted a little deeper, with a little leaf mould mulch. But it still requires good drainage. It will be in flower until May.
For any of these cyclamen plant tubers 18’’apart and then scatter seed at the same time. This will save you some money as the tubers will flower and the seed will leaf up and provide groundcover this season. You can expect to see flower from your seed cyclamen in one to three years and many can live up to 100 years. Seed requires cold to germinate, so best done now.
Plant bulbs now for winter displays
Fill pots with spring bulbs and force them into flower for Christmas. Remember to use prepared bulbs (those kept in cold storage) and plant in a pot of bulb compost with their necks just peeking out, water and put in a cool place.BBC Gardening – Forcing Hyacinths
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John Massey’s garden and open house
Ashwood Lower Lane, Ashwood, Kingswinford, West Midlands, DY6 0AE
Roald Dahls garden at Gipsy House
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CAROL KLEIN’S PLANT FAMILY - IRIDACEAE
Photograph: Many thanks to swishrelic from the Gardeners’ World Flickr group)Wikipedia - Iridaceae
This is the second visit to the Iris family this year proving just how valuable this family is for bringing colour and interest into each season in your garden. Autumn is the time for crocosmias to glow, gladioli to shine and schizostylis to start their long flowering season into winter.
Cut back potatoes for harvesting
Second and main crop potatoes should be large enough to harvest now. Remove top growth to just above soil level, but leave the crop in the ground for another two weeks. This will allow time for the skins to toughen up and help to minimise any potential damage when lifting. Destroy the tops of diseased plants and compost the rest.BBC Gardening - Potatoes
Remove free seeding flower heads
Many free seeding plants are getting ready to disperse their seed. For plants that produce a large amount of seed, like fennel, grasses and poppies, removing some of their seed heads now will prevent a rash of unwanted seedlings and minimise weeding in the spring.More seasonal advice from BBC Gardening
- Series Producer
- Liz Rumbold
- Toby Buckland
- Carol Klein
- Joe Swift
- Louise Hampden