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Changes in the Winter Garden – Part Two

Posted by sheiladearing on 16 Jun 2011 at 01:49 PM

Back in December last year I wrote about the work we had been doing on the bed in the Winter Garden adjacent to the Peter Buckley Learning Centre and our plans to re-plant it with cultivars of British native plants. Well, the re-planting was completed in April and despite the stresses of the dry spring and the predations of various pests (rabbits and caterpillars of the small ermine moth) all of the plants appear to be doing well.


In order to preserve views of the new Learning Centre from the Formal Garden, only a couple of small trees were included in the planting scheme: Acer campestre ‘William Caldwell’, a compact, narrowly upright form of the native field maple which will provide good autumn colour; and Pinus sylvestris Aurea Group AGM, a small form of the Scots pine, the leaves of which become golden-yellow during the winter months. In addition to the Scots pine, the two other British native conifers are represented by the cultivars Taxus baccata ‘Standishii’ AGM (a columnar form of the common yew, with golden-yellow leaves) and Juniperus communis ‘Repanda’ AGM (a dwarf, prostrate form of the common juniper).


Vibrant stem colours are an important part of the Winter Garden so we have taken the opportunity to include several willows and a dogwood not previously represented in the garden. Salix alba ‘Golden Ness’ has bright yellow stems, whilst Salix purpurea ‘Nancy Saunders’ displays glossy red young shoots and Salix x rubens ‘Basfordiana’ has colourful orange-red winter stems. All of these willows will be hard pruned in early spring, probably every couple of years, in order to maintain a good supply of colourful young stems. The form of the common dogwood we have used is Cornus sanguinea ‘Magic Flame’. This is an upright form which in winter creates a flame effect with its orange, yellow and red stems. As a bonus, the mid-green deciduous leaves turn brilliant red in the autumn.


Cornus sanguinea 'Magic Flame' with Juniperus communis ‘Repanda’ in the background and Pulmonaria longifolia ‘Ankum’ and ferns in the foreground.


With a view to providing some year round evergreen structure in the bed, three groups of hollies have been planted along its length: Ilex aquifolium ‘Handsworth New Silver’ AGM, with its purple stems, variegated leaves and bright red berries; Ilex aquifolium ‘Pyramidalis’ AGM, with its conical habit and good crop of red berries; and Ilex aquifolium ‘Ferox Argentea’ AGM, the silver hedgehog holly, so named because of the spines on the surface of its variegated leaves (but no berries because it’s a male plant). In amongst the shrubs and trees we have planted a variety of interesting perennials, ferns, grasses and rushes.

Two varieties of Pulmonaria longifolia have been planted at the front of the bed: P. longifolia ‘Ankum’ and P. longifolia ‘Bertram Anderson’, both of which have bright blue flowers in the spring and long, narrow leaves with attractive silver markings. We have used two groups of the rush Luzula sylvatica ‘Hohe Tatra’ to provide refreshing splashes of colour throughout the year, especially during the winter. Derived from the native common woodrush, L. sylvatica ‘Hohe Tatra’ will eventually form a carpet of upright foliage which is pale green in the summer but turns a bright acid greenish-yellow in the winter. Between spring and early summer tall flower stems will be produced, carrying loose clusters of brown flowers.


Salix alba ‘Golden Ness’ with Luzula sylvatica ‘Hohe Tatra’.


Hopefully this planting will not only enhance the Winter Garden, but also stimulate interest in the very many attractive and garden-worthy plants that are derived from our own native species of plants.

James Shepherd


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on 16 Jun 2011 at 11:22 PM