DE­CEM­BER PLANTS

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

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - DIG IN - WORDS FLEUR VAN ZON­N­EVELD PHO­TO­GRAPHS MAAYKE DE RID­DER

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

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