Fiveways Gardens....February 2015

If your garden is looking bleak and has been for the past few months, it's worth thinking about sorting this out for next year.  A carefully chosen plant grown for winter interest, such as a Sarcococca, Daphne or Viburnum, and some bulbs will make a big difference.  Recently I drove half a dozen of these plants to a client's garden and the floral perfume that filled my car was quite delightful.  In a small front garden, one planted close to the gate or front door will cheer you for several months.  These plants are generally slower growing than others and harder to propagate, so a decent size one will set you back around £30 or more, but, if chosen and planted well, it should give you years of joy.

Another fab plant to consider but which needs a large container of ericaceous soil (available anywhere that sells compost) is witch hazel, or Hamamelis.  Available in shades of red, orange and yellow, they look particularly good grown against a dark green hedge, but in truth are star performers on any sunny patio.  Many varieties have wonderful scent too, a real bonus on a warm day, when you might be outside clutching a hot mug of coffee musing on what to do.  Most witch hazels are naturally large shrubs, so they'll need a very generous container and lots of space.  Or search around for a dwarf form.

Late summer and autumn flowering Clematis can be cut back to about a foot or 30cm above the ground.  If this sounds a bit drastic, cut less off, but beware the scrappy, woody, bare stems that result from not hard-pruning this sort of climber.

If you have tender plants like Melianthus major, do consider fleecing them to protect them from hard frosts and snow.  Alternatively, wait till the worst of the winter weather is over and cut them back as hard as you like, and they'll re-shoot in early summer.

Finally, before everything starts into growth, it's worth getting any plant supports, fence or trellis that's suffered in the windy weather fixed or replaced.  Also, plan ahead for some warmer March and April days, when sheds etc can be re-painted.  There are some great colours available these days, so why not go for something different this year?

Best wishes


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