After the nomenclatural nightmare that was yesterday’s post, something a bit simpler today. Although the idea of my winter garden is still up for debate, since the garden is so cold in winter and I doubt that anything intended for winter colour will actually dare to show its head before March, I am planting for autumn. Berries tend to be the most reliable way to do this and I like colour from berries as long as they do not colour up too early and bring autumn forward to July.
A recent addition is Euonymus europaeus, the common spindle bush. ‘Red Cascade’ is, arguably, the best choice here but I saw a batch of plants, that were obviously raised from seed and were very inexpensive, and chose the one with the best leaf colour. It may not remain as good but I am pleased with the contrast of leaf colour, fruits and seeds. It is an easy plant in full sun and well drained soil and the only downside with the plant is that it is a bit dull in summer, has inconspicuous flowers and it is the winter host of black bean aphid.
A bit more unusual is weigela ‘Wings of Fire’. Recently introduced, this was raised in Boskoop, The Netherlands, by Henny Kolster who did some wide crosses of weigela and produced seedlings with different characteristics. This one is grown mainly for the foliage which starts green but becomes bronze in summer and brightest in autumn. It has very large leaves and is a dramatic plant. I did not set out to get this but it glowed on the benches so was an impulse buy. It should reach 1.5m high and wide. It has lilac flowers in summer but they are not the main point of the plant.
I have planted it under and beside my small Sorbus cashmeriana. This has struggled to get going but is, at least, producing its large white berries.
One of the hedges is largely composed of Rosa rubiginosa, the sweet briar. The attraction of this rose is the apple-scented foliage but it also has lots of dainty, single flowers in summer and, at present, bright scarlet hips. I need to make more of these but we have made a gallon of wine so far.
In some areas I put Crocus speciosus in the grass and these are starting to bloom again.
A few roses continue to bloom and ‘Stanwell Perpetual’ lives up to its name with a smattering of ruffled, pale pink flowers. It has always been a favourite of mine and is a tough plant. The blooms seem more beautiful than ever as they are contrasted against the foliage which is turning purple as the weather cools.
Not everyone like the perennial sunflowers and they can be a bit thuggish in the border. Helianthus atrorubens ‘Monarch’ has a bad reputation as a runner but my plant was only planted in spring so I am not concerned just yet. It appears that there are two plants going about with this name and the imposter is the runner and the true plant is better behaved. From what I can glean, the plant I have is the true ‘Monarch’ so it may behave itself.
It really needs staking and the stems have flopped onto surrounding plants but the large flowers sparkle in the sun and I am grateful for the colour it is providing, and has done for many months.
I am not sure what season the hellebore ‘Winterbells’ thinks it is but, like many of the hellebores, it is flowering way too early. The purple-tinged, greeny white flowers are lovely in winter and spring but seem depressingly dowdy right now.
The first trees I planted, and I have planted more in subsequent years, were birches. Betula utilis ‘Wakehurst Chocolate’ has done very well though it is supposed to be dark chocolate rather than creamy milk. But the bark is starting to look lovely so I am not complaining.
The summer annuals are removed from the formal bed and it is filled with forget-me-nots for spring. Work in the garden is all about the next season.