This Month in the Garden

20 March 2014

Spring Planting ideas


Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Madame Butterfly’ (flowering quince) which trains beautifully up a wall.  This is the perfect time of year to be planting shrubs if you want to see what they are going to look like in flower at the time you plant them.  So go along to your local nursery or garden centre or make a special trip to visit one of the National  Plant Collections or specialist nurseries and buy a plant that you will treasure and that is far from ‘off the peg’!  Now is the time to see camellias, magnolias, flowering quince, daphnes and many others.


There are many new hybrids of hellebore coming onto the market every year so do go to your local or a specialist nursery and enjoy them.  As you start forming a collection you might even get the bug and begin wielding a fine bristled paint brush to encourage your own unique hellebore progeny.

DSC01607This is the perfect time to plant yew and it grows far quicker than you would think.  So now is the time to go round the garden and just imagine how good it would be to have some topiary without paying the earth.  These cones were planting as 50cm bareroot yew hedging plants ten years ago.  They were clipped every year to encourage them to bush out and grow to shape now forming a fine evergreen avenue leading into a broadleaved deciduous wood.

DSCF0272Birds are easy to do too..

14 February 2014

Valentine’s Day

(some ideas!…)


Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ and hellebores


Rosehips from Rosa ‘Warm Welcome’ which is a miniature climber  in flower or fruit all year round!

January 2014


(you can never have too many!)


Rosa ‘Geoff Hamilton’…a lovely rose, exceptionally disease resistant with irresistible hips.


Climbing rose ‘Meg’….very vigorous so needs careful training up a tall wall and will reward you with huge wavy single pink flowers with a fabulous boss of apricot-coloured stamens at the centre in late June followed by these spectacular indestructible hips all winter.


Rosa ‘Dusky Maiden’, which is a lovely single deep velvety-red small shrub rose, here seen with the coral-red last season’s growth of a small snake bark maple.  The winter stems of maple, dogwood, lime and willow are a joy and well worth the judicious pruning needed at the end of winter to get a fine display the following year.

10 January 2014

Colour in the depths of winter


Anemone coronaria ‘Lord Lieutenant’ flowering away just after Christmas!  Order corms now from any bulb supplier with generous quantities of Anemone blanda ‘Blue Shades’ too (and white in your White Garden).  Soak the corms for a couple of hours before planting and make sure your soil is good and humus-rich.  These anemones will seed about the place and bring you joy at the most surprising times of year.


Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ has to be the best value garden shrub of all, if you have the space.  V. important not to prune it too vigorously or it will send out long straight branches when what you want is a nicely branched structure like this with lots of flowers to give you joy from November to April.  They smell sweetly and last very well in a vase, looking particularly good with Euphorbia oblongata, which happily seeds itself about the place and seems to flower in my garden all year round.  Top Tip:  buy a packet from any good seed supplier with a packet of Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’ and start them off in your garden.  You will never look back.


Miscanthus sinensis ‘Ferner Osten’, whose flowers have a charming way of going from ruby-red in the autumn to fluffy, diaphanous white in winter.  Plant where the sunlight will catch them and the wind blow them about so they can take centre stage and dance.

24 November 2013

Something to do with your Quinces


This is the month to plant your bare-root fruit trees and I thoroughly recommend Read’s Nursery of Halesworth who, not only, have a wide variety of unusual fruit trees, their website is excellent on the description of the fruit and its culinary qualities.  This year our quince trees, the variety Cydonia oblonga ‘Vranja’, have been superabundant and we have just made this quince vodka in basically TWO minutes (the time it took to grate two whole quinces, skin, pips and all!)

2 large quinces, 500ml vodka, 220g golden caster sugar.  Coarsely grate quinces, putting handfuls straight into the kilner jar with enough vodka to cover them, and carry on like that at a good fast pace, then add the sugar with the rest of the vodka.  Seal and turn gently to mix then keep turning regularly over the next four weeks then drink!  (Recipe from Susy Atkins)

15 November 2013

Illustrating how easy it is to ‘down-size’ your garden

This pretty area of apple-strewn grass was, up until two weeks ago, an integral part of a intricately patterned box parterre but we dug it up and sowed grass seed and ‘Hey Presto’ a lawn sprang up.  You need NEVER buy turf which invariably brings in all sorts of fungi and blights, such as a particularly nasty and ineradicable problem called ‘red thread’, just sow your own lawn for a fraction of the price.  Nothing could be easier.


1 November 2013

In the beds this November

The shoo-fly plant Nicandra physalodes flowers from June to November. Delicate blue and white flowers and fantastic seedheads for flower arrangements (you can dry them too like Chinese Lanterns).  Just scatter some seed in the Spring and they’ll seed about for you in the most delightful way.


Glorious autumn colours of a beech hedge to be prized and emulated and the glowing clusters of red crab apples on Malus hupehensis, the best of all crab apple trees.  November is the ideal month for planting your bare root trees and hedging so order now so they go into the soil while it is still warm…. a much happier environment for the roots than after Christmas when the soil will probably have become cold and clammy and distinctly inhospitable.


Fatshedera lizei is a genius, if only just hardy, shrub which was created by crossing Fatsia japonica with ivy Hedera hibernica in 1910. Its leaves are a constant joy and the seedheads were attracting an eager group of honey bees today (in November!) so well worth planting even though a heavy frost will blacken the leaves and you just have to prune them out.  It always comes back happy as anything in Spring but never gets out of control.