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Plants for Winter Interest

  • Plants for winter interest

    Hamamelis - Witch hazel

    A lovely addition to the winter garden. Hamamelis is a hardy deciduous shrub with spidery flowers in winter. Depending on the variety the flowers are yellow, orange or red and some are scented. In some years the autumn colour is a fiery orange or yellow.

    Witch hazel Jelena Hamamelis Jelena

    They thrive in a sheltered position and tolerate partial shade. Plant in any moist but well drained neutral to acid soil.

  • Winter foliage

    Evergreen shrubs Evergreen foliage

    When the sun comes out in late winter, it feels like spring is just around the corner. When the leaves are still off deciduous trees and shrubs the value of evergreen plants is obvious.

    Every shade from silvery to dark green and purple can be used to great effect in the garden for all year interest. Evergreens include hardy palms too - for an instant tropical feel even if the temperatures deny it!

  • Something special

    We have some fabulous new specimen plants in the nursery.

    Drawing many comments is the shrub Edgeworthia chrysantha which has silky buds in late winter opening to yellow sweetly  scented flowers in spring before the leaves appear.  Also called the Chinese Paper bush, it prefers a sunny and sheltered site, well-drained but moist soil and grows to around 1.5m with a 2m spread.

    Chinese paper bush Edgeworthia chrysantha

     

    Edgeworthia buds Edgeworthia buds

     

  • Happy New Year

    We hope you had a wonderful Christmas break and wish you a happy and healthy new year.

    The middle of the winter is an ideal time for planting - trees and shrubs are dormant and that means less stress when transplanting - as long as soil conditions are suitable (not waterlogged or frozen). So we are busy packing bare-root plants for despatch while container grown trees and shrubs are due in stock from the growers throughout the month.

    As always we are very happy to discuss your requirements and wish you a successful year in the garden and landscaping!

  • Need some Christmas present ideas?

    ??????????Do you prefer to do your Christmas shopping in the fresh air? Know someone who loves plants or are you just looking for something to make the front door a little more welcoming? We have a few ideas...

     

    Skimmia japonicaSkimmia rubella, looks like a bunch of flowers all winter, pink in bud with small white flowers in spring. A small evergreen shrub which prefers some shade, neutral to acid soil and ultimately grows to approximately 1.2m.

    Sarcococca ruscifoliaSarcococca ruscifolia or Christmas Box - this is a small evergreen shrub with a fabulous fragrance, thrives in the shade and ideal in a border near a path or doorway to bring a scent sensation to late winter. Grows up to 1m.

    Camellia japonicaCamellia japonica - spring flowering Camellia, with lots of buds ready to flower, evergreen, prefers some shade and neutral to acid soil. Grows to 3m depending on variety.

     

    Azalea JohannaEvergreen Azalea Johanna - lush dark evergreen foliage, orange red spring flowers, also prefers neutral to acid soil and some shade. Does well in a pot  - always use ericaceous compost!

     
    Variegated Holly half standardIlex acquifolium argentea marginata - Holly - a traditional plant for Christmas with a variation - variegated foliage which brightens up an entrance, bright red berries, slow growing and very hardy. Prune to retain shape in summer.

    Picea pungens EdithPicea pungens Edith - one of the best colour blue spruce's. Christmas tree shape, slow growing to approximately 3m in 20 years. Likes well - drained soil and a sunny site.

     

    Many of our customers give fruit trees and small ornamental trees as gifts, we would be happy to advise a suitable choice. Do visit the nursery or contact us if you need some ideas!

    Alternatively, we also sell Gift vouchers!

  • Focus on Salix – Willows

    With some areas of the country having been affected by wet ground and flooded landscapes over the course of this winter, we have been thinking about trees and shrubs that are resilient enough to withstand waterlogged or wet conditions.

    One such species that can be effective in these conditions are Willows (Salix species), which can be used for a variety of purposes in soil that tends to be wet.

    Ornamental, yet functional trees

    When established, specimen trees that can withstand wet sites actually help to reduce water in the area. Their roots are notable for their durability: they can absorb water through the roots, which are then carried through the tree and transpired out through its leaves.

    Willows can be used as specimen trees – such as the iconic Salix alba chrysocoma (famously known as the weeping willow) and are often seen beautifying river banks and ponds, but they also have many uses as shrubs.

     

    Salix

    Basket making

    Traditionally willows have been used in basket making, with the common osier or Salix viminalis commonly used for this purpose; other varieties such as white willow and scarlet willow (Salix vitellina and Salix alba britzensis) can be used for basketry too.

     

    While plants are usually kept coppiced (i.e. cut close to the ground to encourage further growth) to provide stems suitable for basket making, they can also be left to grow as a single stem and pollarded (cut higher up) to avoid damage from any curious, passing animals.

    Stabilising river banks

    Planting willow by rivers or streams is thought to help reduce bank erosion and prevent flooding. While native shrubs and taller plants are useful, willow trees are an ideal choice for this purpose, as they root easily and are quick growing.

    Design

    Willows are an ideal specimen shrub to feature in a winter garden. To be planted in broad drifts and pruned in the spring to encourage the brightly coloured new growth, Willows can be used to startling effect alongside bulbs such as snow drops, and with trees such as the white stemmed Himalayan birch (Betula utilis jaquemontii)

    English Woodlands supply Salix willow bare root trees and shrubs from November to March in varieties suitable for coppicing, hedging, river side planting and ornamental use in the garden as well as specimen trees in containers all year round - it is a genus well worth discovering!

  • Evergreen Specimen Conifers – The English Woodlands January Offer

    At this time of year, gardens can look a little bleak, so the value of evergreens, and particularly stately specimens such as conifers, are obvious. We like to make sure our promotions reflect this, and that’s why we’ll be offering a full 20% off any purchases of evergreen specimen conifers throughout the month of January. Just enter the code JAN14 at checkout to claim the promotional discount for yourself.

    Autumn to spring is an ideal planting time, we supply specimen conifers as mature plants in containers that can be planted anytime conditions are suitable. Whenever you plant, this is the time of year to appreciate them. Conifers can add a focal point in a large medium or small garden, depending on the variety. They add form, foliage detail and colour to a winter garden.

    There’s a wide variety in stock this month, starting with larger plants like the distinctive, pencil-shaped Juniper Skyrocket, now only £91.20 for a 200-250cm tree.  For a smaller specimen the slow-growing Korean Fir (Abies Koreana) is discounted to only £44.20 for an 80-100cm plant, though with an ultimate height as great as 10 metres.

     Korean Fir

    The Korean Fir, displaying green, narrow needles with a silvery underside

    You may also want to take a look at Pinus sylvestris, or the Scots Pine. Read more about it in our previous blog, it is a justifiably popular tree – quick growing, wind tolerant and native to the British Isles. A hardy conifer with an initially pyramid-like shape, it eventually spreads to more of an umbrella shape, at an ultimate height of anywhere between ten and thirty metres.

    There’s plenty more on offer, from the Himalayan and Blue Atlas Cedars, to Redwoods and Cypress trees. Just use the code JAN14 at checkout to claim your promotional 20% discount.

    As ever, if you’d like to know more about our current and upcoming offers, stock, trade enquiries, or would simply like some advice on plant choice and planting technique, don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.

  • Trees & Shrubs for Wet Conditions

    While the winter may be the best time to plant dormant deciduous plants, the chance of extreme weather needs to be considered, with 2014 being no exception. Many areas in the UK have suffered from floods and waterlogging, with conditions expected to continue through January.

    Most trees and shrubs prefer good drainage, but some species cope better than others with periods of flooding and waterlogging. If your site is susceptible to these conditions, you may want to consider some of those pictured below. Click the slideshow for a few extra details.

    If any sound interesting, Scroll down to find a link to each product's store page, complete with extra images and details.

     

     

    Any of these are highly recommended if you're expecting wet soils. See below for additional links and species you might be interested in, though. If you'd like any extra help picking out an appropriate species for your site, feel free to contact English Woodlands at any time, we're always happy to lend a hand.

    In addition to these, some species will tolerate wet ground and only short periods of flooding, seen below.

    • Acer pseudoplatanus varieties – Sycamore
    • Betula Nigra – River birch
    • Catalpa bignonoides – Indian bean tree
    • Cornus sanguinea – common dogwood
    • Cornus stolonifera – yellow dogwood
    • Euonymous europaeus – spindle
    • Quercus palustris – pin oak
    • Quercus robur – English oak
    • Sambucus Nigra – elder

    Most evergreen conifers prefer well-drained soil, though some will tolerate wet ground and short periods of waterlogged soil.

    • Pinus sylvestris – Scots pine
    • Thuja plicata – Western Red Cedar
  • Plants for Winter Interest – Cornus Alba

    We must admit, when seeking plants to splash colour through our winter gardens it’s always nice to see the odd deciduous plant. Here we’ll be talking about Cornus alba, commonly known as the ‘red bark dogwood’.

    If the name didn’t clue you in, Cornus alba is noted for the vibrant red stem colouring it displays every winter. As can be seen in the featured image, at its best the red is so showy to seem almost lit up, making for an invigorating and unusual sight in an otherwise sparse garden. The plant has some merit during the rest of the year, with dark green leaves surrounding new clusters of tiny white flowers during late spring. In early autumn blueish-white berries start to appear, and are perfectly edible both for yourself and local birds.

    Optimising the plant for winter interest means minimising these other features, however. The bark is reddest on the previous summer’s growth, rapidly darkening for the spring. The plant requires minimum effort to keep, though if you want to see impressive colouring you’ll need to prune down the older branches thoroughly at the start of each spring, aside from the first year. Cornus alba is vigorous, so it’ll fill back out quite quickly.

    As far as placement is concerned, just make sure it enjoys moist soil in a sunny site, these factors maximise the red appearance of new growth. It functions well enough as a lone specimen, but grouping it with a number of others can produce colourful, if not especially dense, winter hedging.

    Cornus alba is an attractive plant with unique winter interest. We recommend it highly, so be sure to consider it when you’re planning for a new winter garden.

  • Plants for Winter Interest – Arbutus Unedo (Strawberry Tree)

    Winter can leave gardens feeling particularly bare and sparse, and finding ways to retaining a sense of life and colour over winter is a worthwhile goal for many. This can easily be achieved through informed planting choices, and with a little attention to structure any garden can remain invigorating throughout the colder months. One plant we’re happy to recommend on the merits of its winter interest is Arbutus unedo, the Strawberry tree.

    As an evergreen shrub it features a bushy habit and retains a full appearance throughout the year. The plant begins to take on interest in early autumn, when white, bell shaped flowers begin to appear at the end of each stem. These make for excellent contrast in the otherwise dreary autumn period. The previous year’s flowering will produce small red fruits ripening over autumn, again adding a welcome splash of colour. They drop of their own accord around November or December, making this an excellent winter and later autumn specimen. The fruits are edible yet bland, and will serve local wildlife quite well. They resemble strawberry marzipan petit fours, and birds will love them. Butterflies seek out the nectar from the flowers, and can often be seen frequenting them on sunny autumn days.

    You’ll want to plant Arbutus unedo in a well-drained soil with access to full sun. Being an evergreen with winter fruit it is naturally hardy, and requires no maintenance in terms of pruning. Left alone they’ll grow into a naturally bushy shape, though it’s safe to prune them into more formal ‘lollipop’ topiary shapes. The strawberry tree is appropriate for ground and container planting, though a group planted together as shrubs will be bushy enough to serve as noise barriers.

    The Strawberry tree is an excellent investment to liven up a garden over late autumn and winter, and comes highly recommended by the English Woodlands team. If Arbutus unedo doesn't seem right for you, then feel free to take a look at our blog series on plants for winter interest.

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