Our speaker was the return of Geoff Hodge an author of 8 gardening books including 5
for the RHS. His talk was entitled ‘Winter in the garden – beating the winter blues’ very apt for this time of year!
Planning is of paramount importance for maximising winter colour in the garden.
Think before you buy.
Start with structural plants to give a focal point, perhaps a tree, large shrub or a pergola.with a climber. Interspersed with smaller shrubs and surround with plants that give good ground cover. Brown is not a good garden colour!
Looking out onto a colourful winter garden can help lift depression during the winter months and gives a feeling of well being.
Garden designers tend to plant one evergreen plant to two deciduous plants.
Conifers give shape and structure and colour with green, yellow and blue varieties. Heathers provide many colours but always trim after flowering to keep compact.
It seems we in the UK love variegated leaves more than any other country in the world!
Some of Geoff’s favourite winter plants include Leucothoe Scarletta a branch of the rhodedendron family with green and red leaves. Pieris ‘flaming silver’, evergreen prefers acid soil and a shady position. Carex siderosticha has variegated leaves and is related to the grass family. Many types of euphorbia with yellow flowers and ‘hairy’ leaves which mean it is drought resistant. Lamium maculatum with white flowers that gives good ground cover. Ornamental cabbages in white yellow and purple make an unusual combination but beware they are paticularly enjoyed by rabbits!
Winter flowers include Daphne mezereum flowers in January to March and thrives in deep shade. Strong scented, slow growing Hamamekis Mollis is fiery in autumn with yellow flowers.
Mahonia an architectural plant with strong scent and yellow flowers. Viburnham bodnantense with flowers on bare stems and strong scent. Annual pruning is essential as it can grow up to 10ft !
Helleborus foetidus known as the stinking one and helleborus niger known as the potters wheel with its big white flowers. Also known as the Christmas rose as it does not flower at Christmas!
Bulbs include Cyclamen coum a hardy ground cover which can multiply when ants who are attracted to its seeds make off with them and can deposit them in other parts of the garden! Galanthus Dionysius are only favoured by keen collectors as each bulb can cost around £5.00
Berries add colour. Cotoneaster horizontalis with its variegated leaves can even grow up walls. Sometimes known as the council plant as it can grow anywhere.
Ilex or holly need male and female plants to provide a prolific crop of berries. Pyracantha ‘Navaho’ a good hedging plant with white flowers in summer and berries in winter (if the birds don’t eat them first!
Winter stems provide colour in winter. Silver birches with their silver and white branches can be spectacular in the dark days of winter. Rubus thibetanus has white stems but needs regular attention as it is a garden thug and can take over a border if not kept in check.
Leave aliums alone for their large seed heads create structure and are an ideal hibernating place for ladybirds.
Garden centres now stock many brightly coloured glazed pots for patio plants which complement winter planting of pansies and violas.
The Harpenden Gardening Society will publish it 2021 programme of meetings and events in early January.