Bath Chronicle

It’s time to get out the win­ter green

With chilly weather ap­proach­ing, now is the time to get plants into the ground that will pro­vide colour and struc­ture all win­ter long

- Gardening · Lifestyle · Hobbies · Forests · Earth Science

Oc­to­ber is prime plant­ing sea­son. Yes, it’s time to get your bulbs in but you can also be plant­ing peren­ni­als, trees and shrubs. Why is now such a good time? be­cause the soil is still warm but un­like the sum­mer months, there’s less risk of drought and the soil tends to be moist.

Later on, the earth can freeze or be wa­ter­logged, but right now it’s pli­able and wel­com­ing to new­com­ers. How­ever, any­thing that’s bor­der­line ten­der or ex­otic is prob­a­bly best left un­til spring as it won’t ben­e­fit from shiv­er­ing all win­ter long.

If you have a new plot or are pon­der­ing im­prove­ments to your ex­ist­ing gar­den, con­sider the role of ev­er­green shrubs and what they might add. ev­er­green shrubs are our com­pan­ions in win­ter, pro­vid­ing struc­ture and in­ter­est af­ter the de­cid­u­ous trees and shrubs have flut­tered their leaves away.

There’s a bal­ance to be struck be­tween ev­er­green and de­cid­u­ous plant­ing.

You do not want to en­tirely dom­i­nate the space with ev­er­green, you’re aim­ing for gen­tle punc­tu­a­tion and rhythms through the space. by us­ing dif­fer­ent leaf shapes and tex­tures and var­ie­ga­tions you will not only have an in­ter­est­ing back­drop dur­ing the flow­er­ing sea­son, but will also ex­tend the beauty of your gar­den well into the win­ter months.

I use Prunus lau­ro­cera­sus, or cherry lau­rel, in lots of gar­dens. It’s de­pend­able, ver­sa­tile and hardy. The dark, dense fo­liage cre­ates a very use­ful bar­rier, act­ing as a solid wind­break and back­ground for more del­i­cate plant­ing. It makes a glossy green hedge and grows even in lower light lev­els. choisya ter­nata, the Mex­i­can or­ange blos­som, is an­other com­mon ev­er­green which we some­times take for granted but it has much to of­fer, in­clud­ing fra­grant fo­liage and flow­ers.

I’d also rec­om­mend skim­mia as a re­li­able per­former, with a good com­pact shape and win­ter in­ter­est in the form of flow­ers and berries.

De­li­cious fra­grant flow­ers are the re­ward for grow­ing os­man­thus x burk­woodii. It has small dark green leaves and in spring is laden with white flow­ers that are highly scented – an ab­so­lute joy.

other gor­geous smelling ev­er­green shrubs in­clude sweet box Sar­co­cocca, which has a di­vine win­ter scent, Azara mi­cro­phylla which has tiny yel­low vanil­las­cented flow­ers in spring, Daphne for pow­er­fully per­fumed pink flow­ers, and the com­mon enough Ma­ho­nia which has sprays of yel­low-scented flow­ers in win­ter.

Fat­sia japon­ica, or cas­tor oil, is an­other fa­mil­iar plant but none­the­less dra­matic and sculp­tural in win­ter – the fo­liage is so shapely, it does well in most soils and is par­tic­u­larly valu­able in shady spots. There is a new in­tro­duc­tion, Fat­sia poly­carpa ‘Green Fin­gers’ which has leaves that are more finely shaped and will give an ex­otic feel to the shrub­bery.

A care­ful se­lec­tion of eas­ily avail­able shrubs can keep your gar­den alive while many other plants hi­ber­nate. Re­mem­ber to keep ev­er­greens wa­tered af­ter plant­ing and dur­ing dry spells for their first year, as they con­tinue to lose wa­ter through their leaves. A gen­er­ous mulch of ma­nure, bark chips or com­post will help nu­tri­ents re­lease slowly.

 ??  ?? Cold com­fort: Fat­sia Japon­ica cov­ered in snow
Cold com­fort: Fat­sia Japon­ica cov­ered in snow
 ??  ?? Struc­ture: Fat­sia japon­ica adds drama in win­ter
Struc­ture: Fat­sia japon­ica adds drama in win­ter
 ??  ?? Heaven scent: Flow­ers of Os­man­thus x burk­woodii have a fan­tas­tic fra­grance
Heaven scent: Flow­ers of Os­man­thus x burk­woodii have a fan­tas­tic fra­grance
 ??  ?? Choisya
 ??  ?? Sar­co­cocca

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