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The Winter Garden

January is the time for cleaning and clearing in the winter garden. 

If you are still enjoying the seed heads of your grasses you can leave them a little longer, but make sure you cut them down hard before the new growth appears or you will be left with a nasty job of trying to pick out the dead growth from in between the new!  Hellebores need d-leafing now to avoid disease carrying over to the new growth.  Those brown blotches do not seem to harm the plants much but they are unsightly.

It is not all gloom in the garden now – Virburnum tinus is in flower and Viburnum bodnantense is filling the garden with fragrance. Mahonias are in flower and smell wonderful; if you do not like their p rickly foliage try Mahonia Soft Caress.  Sarcococcas come into their own now – neat and tidy all year, their small white flowers are unbelievably perfumed.

Winter gardens are getting more popular. The white stems of Betula Jacquemontii stand out in the gloom and the shiny chestnut coloured bark of Prunus serrula cries out to be rubbed.  If you do not have room for a full-sized Jacquemontii like Snow Queen, we have the smaller Moonbeam in stock.  Dogwoods make a good winter display with stems of yellow, black and brilliant red. They are easy to manage – just cut them back in spring.

You can plant potted trees and shrubs all year round but bare-root and root-balled hedging really needs to be in the ground by the end of March. We are still taking orders and there should be no problem with availability of the bare-root, but the larger root-balled plants will get scarce so it is worth reserving for later delivery rather than waiting till you have everything prepared.

A word about the loved and loathed Cyprocyparis leylandii (Leyland cypress).   This does make a really good hedge and is brilliant at cutting out traffic noise – provided it is regularly clipped.  Once it gets out of hand it resents hard pruning, dies back and looks dreadful.  If you need a solid screen and are not great on maintenance, try Thuja  instead – it looks much the same but will take any amount of hacking.  Available root-balled till end of March and potted all year round.  We are shortly expecting some Thuja Tiny Tim – a compact version which makes a nice ball or could be used as a low hedge for a parterre.

Best wishes for the New Year. We look forward to seeing you all again in the coming season.