This month Fleur suggests some fabulous shrubs and trees with stunning structure, as well as bright, f lowering plants that save their best for last
SOLIDAGO RUGOSA ‘FIREWORKS’
With its bright-yellow flowers that are borne in dense, plume-like panicles on the ends of elegantly arching stems, this looks like a firework firing off in several directions. It’s an excellent addition to prairie-style planting schemes, contrasting well with grasses and asters, but it also makes a wonderful cut f lower. It’s a strong grower, but not invasive, and flowers from late summer through to late autumn. By December it has finished f lowering but the stems create a strong winter silhouette. AGM. Height 1.4m. Origin Garden origin (species North America). Conditions Well-drained soil; full sun and part shade. Hardiness RHS H7, USDA 4a-8b. Season of interest Autumn to winter.
BIDENS AUREA ‘STARLIGHT’
Over the summer we’ve experimented with a number of bright-orange bidens and have only just recovered from the overwhelming bloom of Bidens triplinervia ‘Hawaiian Flare Orange Yellow Brush’. This white cultivar from the German firm Kientzler is longer flowering and even more exuberant than some of the orange bidens. It is a good filler for the front edge of the border, where the fresh green of its fine leaves and pretty little flowers merge well with the winter colour palette, but it is sensitive to frost, so perhaps better grown in a pot so you can more easily bring it inside when temperatures drop. Height 30cm. Origin Mexico. Conditions Well-drained soil; full sun. Hardiness RHS H3. Season of interest Summer to winter.
SALIX ALBA VAR. VITELLINA ‘BRITZENSIS’
Many gardeners choose evergreen shrubs in winter over deciduous trees with their bare branches, but we love the branches of this willow. After the leaves have fallen and temperatures dropped, its branches take on a beautiful orange that creates a wonderful contrast against the winter sky whether blue or grey. In spring, when the twigs begin to shoot, the branches turn green again. As perennial growers we spend a lot of time looking groundward, so at this time of year, when there is so little flower and foliage to see, it’s good to have an excuse to raise our eyes. Height 5m (pollarded). Origin Europe. Conditions Moist but well-drained soil; full sun. Hardiness RHS H7, USDA 4a-8b. Season of interest Winter.
Fleur van Zonneveld runs the Dutch nursery De Kleine Plantage. dekleineplantage.nl