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Monthly Archives: January 2021

  • Plants for winter interest

    Winter gardens don't have to be dreary! Some trees and shrubs provide colourful stems and bark, fragrant flowers and foliage colour.

    Evergreen trees and shrubs can add form and structure to a garden in winter and of course provide screening too. Both conifer and non-conifer foliage can be used to create a colour pallette all year round. Gold foliage particularly stands out on dull winter days - Cupressus Gold Rider is a great variety for strong colour.

    Cupressus Gold Rider

    Evergreen shrubs that have variegated foliage, such as Pittosporum, can be used to great effect in mixed borders. Spotted laurel is one of the few variegated plants that thrives in shade so can be used to brighten up a dark corner. Similarly variegated holly when lit by house lights can be cheerful in the darkest months.

    Pittosporum varieties

    Holly - Ilex argentea marginata

    Spotted laurel - Aucuba japonica

    Colourful stems are found on many Cornus and Salix (dogwoods and willow). Shrubs such as Cornus alba sibirica, C. Midwinter Fire and C. Magic Flame look great planted in drifts of red, yellow and orange. They can be trimmed in spring to encourage new growth and they tolerate heavy even wet soils well. Willow can be used in the same environment, Salix alba britzensis the Scarlet willow can be left to grow into a large tree where the top colourful growth catches low winter sun or pruned hard to create new growth at lower levels.

    Cornus alba sibirica - red barked dogwood

    Trees with interesting bark include the Himalayan Birch - Betula utilis jaquemonti and Tibetan cherry - Prunus serrula with glossy mahogany bark.

    Betula utilis jaquemontii

    Prunus serrula Tibetica

    Shrubs Skimmia rubella and Viburnum tinus Eve Price both have attractive buds that last all winter prior to flowering in spring.

    Skimmia rubella

    Flowering shrubs are particularly welcome in winter - Sarcococca or sweet box is an evergreen shrub with small white fragrant flowers in late winter. Edgeworthia chrysantha or Chinese paper bush also has fragrant flowers and silky cream buds. Hamamelis - witch hazel has spidery yellow, orange or red flowers and some are fragrant too. Mahonia media has yellow fragrant flowers and architectural evergreen foliage - lots of choice!

    Alnus incana aurea catkins

    Many trees have interesting catkins in late winter and early spring - birch, alder, willow and hazel - early signs of spring are always welcome!

  • Cold and wet weather planting advice.

    Autumn to spring is the ideal planting time for most trees and shrubs as they are not actively growing and there is likely to be less stress to the plant. However, it is best to avoid planting in waterlogged or frozen ground.

    English Woodlands

    Wet conditions?

    If the soil is waterlogged do wait until surface water has drained away before you plant. If the soil consistently remains very wet consider improving the drainage before planting or the plants could suffer in the long term. Walking or driving on, or digging soil, when waterlogged can also damage the structure - compacting it and reducing the aeration which is necessary for plant roots to thrive.

    Cold conditions?

    Generally, if there is snow on the ground or the ground is frozen for several days it is advisable not to plant. Do not remove pots or containers from the root ball during freezing conditions as the small roots can be damaged.


    Bundles of bare-root plants can be kept in the bags they are supplied in, in a shed or garage for about a week prior to planting, if the delay is longer they are best ‘heeled’ in the soil in their bundles or in a free draining container with compost around the roots. Rootballed plants are best left out of drying, cold winds with straw or hessian over the rootballs. Container grown trees and shrubs are fine in the containers they come in until planting conditions are suitable – just secure them safely where they won’t blow over.

  • Happy New Year!

    We wish all our customers a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

    We are open as usual from 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday and from 8am to 4pm Saturday. We welcome pre-orders, especially this year, for bare-root hedging for both delivery and contactless collection. You are welcome to telephone or email us for advice and you can order on the web, by telephone or email.

    The nursery is open to visitors, we are following our normal careful Covid secure procedures and request customers wear face masks in the office area. We limit numbers in the office to 4 customers and there are hand sanitising stations prior to entry to reception.

    Enjoy the planting season, as long as the ground isn't waterlogged or frozen it is the time to plant trees and shrubs. See our previous blog on cold weather advice.

    Large specimen evergreen shrubs

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