Ash­bur­ton

Many think the gar­den is dead in June and see lit­tle beauty in it, but there are many trea­sures that rear their heads at this time.

NZ Gardener - - Contents -

Alan Trott has the plants and ideas for a beau­ti­ful win­ter gar­den

Ial­ways like see­ing Ado­nis amuren­sis show­ing its golden buds fol­lowed by ferny fo­liage on the short­est day of the year. It flow­ers for many weeks. Cy­cla­men coum is another gem which never fails to flower, and its fo­liage is a win­ner too. This is a great wood­land plant which soon colonises un­der ideal con­di­tions.

Helle­bores are just show­ing buds now. Just be­fore they flower, re­move last year’s leaves as this makes the plant look tidy when it does fi­nally bloom. There are many new named cul­ti­vars avail­able and one of my favourites is ‘Anna’s Red’ which has won­der­ful, deep red, out­ward-fac­ing flow­ers. Try some of these new cul­ti­vars; you will not be dis­ap­pointed as they will give you years of plea­sure.

Ber­ge­nia ‘Bress­ing­ham Ruby’ is a won­der­ful fo­liage plant this month as the green leaves have turned a plum pur­ple with the cool frosty weather. It’s an easy plant to grow in the front of a bor­der in full sun and the bonus is that in spring it sends up pan­i­cles of rich plum flow­ers.

For the wood­land, galan­thus are prob­a­bly the most sought-after bulb for that splash of win­ter colour with their nod­ding white bells. They are easy to grow and mul­ti­ply well. Ev­ery three years, di­vide them and you will soon have big drifts of the plant.

Shrubs that flower in mid­win­ter are al­ways a joy. We should plant more of them. Daphne bholua is an up­right semi-ever­green shrub which pro­duces an abun­dance of pale pink flow­ers fad­ing to al­most white with an amaz­ing in­tox­i­cat­ing fra­grance. This is a plant which can be in any gar­den, be it large or small.

Chi­mo­nan­thus prae­cox ‘Lu­teus’ is a joy to have as this form has large, deep daf­fodil-yel­low flow­ers which blooms over a two-month pe­riod (and of­ten longer). This shrub will scent your gar­den and, of course, is great for pick­ing and bring­ing into the house.

Trees are the bones of any gar­den.

They can make a state­ment on their own or planted in a group. I favour de­cid­u­ous trees as they show their skele­tons off in win­ter and many have won­der­ful bark.

Prunus ser­rula al­ways at­tracts at­ten­tion, espe­cially when planted on the edge of a bor­der where any­one pass­ing can touch and ad­mire it.

If you have a large gar­den, you must plant some grafted Be­tula (birch). There are many good cul­ti­vars avail­able. But be­ware of planting seedlings as they will not be as good. Be­tula utilis ‘Sil­ver Shadow’ is one of my favourites. This cul­ti­var has ice white bark and an up­right habit, and looks amaz­ing planted in a group, and the added bonus is that it has won­der­ful golden au­tumn colours.

Of course there are many trees with amaz­ing bark, so you can af­ford to be se­lec­tive when planting.

Peren­ni­als left un­cut in win­ter can have a cer­tain beauty.

I of­ten tend to leave cut­ting peren­ni­als down till early spring. Many have amaz­ing seed­heads which at­tract the birds as well.

I never cut can­nas till early Oc­to­ber – if cut too, early they can get wa­ter­logged down the old stem and rot if frozen.

Mis­cant­hus and Cala­m­a­grostis are beau­ti­ful when left for the win­ter. I al­ways cut them down in early spring; this also pro­tects new growth from be­ing frosted.

Most peren­ni­als are hardy and will sur­vive the harsh­est of win­ters, but if you have some­thing a lit­tle ten­der, it’s worth the ef­fort to pro­tect it or dig it up and put it inside for the win­ter.

Birds bring life to a gar­den and it’s well worth mak­ing a bird­feeder near the house and hang­ing it in a tree. Just po­si­tion it so that cats and other such preda­tors can­not reach it. Buy wild bird seed or per­haps just use fat to at­tract the wax-eyes. If you are in a warmer cli­mate, make some­thing which at­tracts the tu¯ or wood pi­geon. Birds in win­ter are usu­ally hun­gry and, once at­tracted to the sta­tion, be­come very friendly.

How about mak­ing a struc­ture in the gar­den which will be­come a fea­ture later in the sea­son? Build a gazebo or an ar­bour you can sit in dur­ing win­ter or sum­mer. Paint it red or blue and make a state­ment, and brighten up that win­ter’s day.

So June should not be a de­press­ing month for gar­den­ers. Think of it as a month to plan for those warmer days, or per­haps catch up on the gar­den­ing mag­a­zines and books that ar­rived in sum­mer… when you didn’t had time to read them!

‘Sil­ver Shadow’.

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