Talk of the Month

Cancelled

Whats On in February

STAYING AT HOME

What to do in the garden this month

  • Prune Wisteria, cutting back summer side shoots to 2 or 3 buds.
  • Prune rose bushes. Cut back to just above a bud and remove any crossing or dead branches.
  • Remove old Hellebore leaves to make the new blooms more visible as they emerge.
  • Remove any faded flowers from your winter pansies to stop them setting seed.
  • Collect any fallen leaves as these tend to harbour slugs.
  • Check mowers and tools and send for servicing, if necessary.
  • Cut back the old foliage from ornamental grasses before growth begins – clip them to within a few centimetres of the ground.
  • Plan your vegetable plot for this year to ensure good crop rotation and prevent pests and diseases building up in the soil.
  • Order seeds and summer-flowering bulbs from mail-order or on-line suppliers.

Christmas greenery, straight from the garden

What could be more lovely than stepping out on a cold and frosty morning to pick home-grown Christmas greenery, straight from the garden? Graham Rice offers some expert plant suggestions.

It used to be that the only option for holiday greenery in the home was the Christmas tree, along with holly and ivy. Now everything’s changed, and very definitely for the better.

Today an increasing range of attractive evergreen alternatives for decorative foliage is available to use in wreaths, in table decorations and in long-lasting seasonal arrangements. And the great thing about so many of these alternatives is that you can grow them yourself at home. Here are ten options.

Numbers at the end of each entry refer to plant height and RHS hardiness rating.

Source: https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/articles/graham-rice/shrubs-and-climbers/grow-your-own-christmas-greenery

Winter heathers

More lime-tolerant than other heathers, winter heathers come in a range of foliage colours and with reddish, pink or white flowers. There are more varieties of Erica carnea, but E. × darleyensis is taller, with longer stems that intertwine better into wreaths. ‘White Perfection’ AGM has clusters of white winter flowers like the first snowflakes. 45cm (18in), H5.

Sharply shaped

Each individual dark green leaf of Euonymus fortunei ‘Wolong Ghost’ AGM is shaped like a dagger and features a ghostly white band along the midrib with spidery white veins. Carried on extending shoots which make good ground cover, ‘Wolong Ghost’ will also climb, clinging by aerial roots. The long branches are ideal to weave into wreaths. 30cm (12in), H5.

Edged in gold

The densely packed, upright growth of Euonymus japonicus ‘Ovatus Aureus’ AGM is a rich and shining green with the edge of every glossy leaf irregularly coloured in gold, brightest on the younger growth. Plant in a sunny situation to promote the best colour. Not the most vigorous, but creates sunny sparks in Christmas wreaths. 1.2m (4ft), H5.

Fresh and bright

The rounded foliage of Griselinia littoralis AGM has such a clean and shining look, noticeably paler and glossier than holly with its deep green colouring, that blending the two is a very effective approach. 3m (10ft), H5. ‘Variegata’ AGM features the addition of creamy or pale yellowish margins to the foliage although the plants are less vigorous and slightly less hardy, growing to 1.8m (6ft), H4.

Colourful ivy

You might have pulled some wild ivy from a fence or a tree trunk to help fill out your Christmas greenery, and it works well. But, like wild holly, the leaves are very dark. Variegated kinds, such as Hedera helix ‘Ceridwen’ AGM with its bold, three pointed leaves with bright yellow margins are far more colourful. Sometimes even the whole leaf is bright yellow. 2m (6½ft), H5.

Winter blues

The blue needles of this dwarf form of the Colorado spruce (Picea pungens (Glauca Group) ‘Hoopsii’) AGM make a bright, refreshing change from darker shades, bringing a lift of light to wreaths and table centrepieces. Avoid the dense dwarf varieties such as ‘Globosa’; they just don’t produce enough growth, and don’t expect your ‘Hoopsii’ to look elegant if you cut off branches every Christmas so plant in an out-of-the-way spot. 2.5m (8ft), H7.

Holly with a difference

The few holly varieties without spines are often recommended, for obvious reasons, but Ilex aquifolium ‘Ferox Argentea’ AGM goes the other way. Exceptionally spiny, even with spines growing out of the blades of the leaves, ‘Ferox Argentea’ has purple stems, creamy edges to the leaves and a mass of spines. Intriguing and effective, but no berries. Height up to 8m (26ft), but can be pruned to keep it much smaller. H6.

White Christmas pine

Planting a pine for Christmas greenery may be a surprising idea, but one with such beautiful long needles – reaching 15cm (6in) in length – is a very useful addition to our palette of seasonal decorations. The Weymouth or white pine, Pinus strobus, grows strongly (though it dislikes limy soil). Cutting boughs for Christmas is not going to improve its shape so choose its planting site carefully. 5m (16ft), H7.

Silver charmer

The combination of small, neat foliage, splashed with cream and held on slender but stiff shoots, plus a tolerance of pruning, makes Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Irene Paterson’ AGM an ideal shrub for garden use and for cutting for indoors. Its vigour held in check by this regular pruning, at this time of year the foliage often develops a pink tinge. 2.5m (8ft), H3.

Longest lasting evergreen

Ruscus aculeatus, butcher’s broom, is probably the evergreen that lasts longest when cut and still looks good, even without water, weeks after cutting. The variety ‘John Redmond’ AGM has the bonus of producing bright red berries and, unlike most other forms, without the need of an additional male plant. It’s also tough, resilient and will grow in dry shade. 75cm (30in), H5.

Did you know?

Penstemon

Penstemon are evergreen or deciduous perennials or sub-shrubs with narrow, modest leaves and elegant bell-shaped flowers that neatly form tall majestic spires throughout summer into early autumn. They are native to North America and East Asia. The first publicised description of Penstemon was in the works of John Mitchell in 1748. Subsequently, Carl Linnaeus wrote about them in 1753, although altered the spelling to ‘Pentstemon’, referring to the Greek term ‘penta’, meaning ‘five’, in reference to the plant’s fifth stamen. Both terms were widely used long into the 20th century although today it is more commonly spelt and pronounced ‘Penstemon’.

Interestingly, John Mitchell (13th April 1711 – 29th February 1768) was a colonial American physician and botanist. He created the most comprehensive and perhaps largest 18th-century map of eastern North America, known today as the Mitchell Map. He and his wife moved to Britain for health reasons and en route their ship was captured by a French privateer; although they were released, their belongings (and Mitchell’s botanical samples) were confiscated and they arrived in London with only Mitchell’s small fund of investments to their name. Mitchell did not try to compete with the metropolitan doctors; instead, he established himself as an expert on exotic botany. He was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society in November 1748, his candidature citation describing him as “A Gentleman of great merit and Learning” whose study of natural history, especially botany, is very well acquainted with the vegetable productions of North America.

He continued to live in London, often touring the country estates of his aristocratic friends/patrons, occasionally writing articles and pamphlets, and living the life of a gentleman of modest means. His wife probably died soon after they reached London; Mitchell himself died in 1768.

Sources:
https://hayloft.co.uk/category/penstemon#:~:text=History%20and%20Origin%3A,of%20John%20Mitchell%20in%201748

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Mitchell_(geographer)

Annual Membership

The cost of annual membership remains at only £7 per person, which entitles you to free admission to our interesting monthly talks held in Kilmington Village Hall on the second Friday of the month.
Application Form

KILMINGTON KIDS' CORNER

Don’t forget that if you have any gardening stories or photos to share with us, we would love to hear from you!
Do you need something to do when you’re not ‘home schooling’?

Have you thought of growing some vegetables in your own garden? There is nothing quite like picking fresh salad ingredients or strawberries and then having them for your supper. The taste is so much better than shop-bought produce. Why not have a look at this website for inspiration?

Source: https://www.thompson-morgan.com/kids-grow-gardening-with-children

 

Happy gardening!

Upcoming Visits And Events

Upcoming Talks

Contacts

B. J. Lewis (President)

01297-35159

Gill Gibbs (Chair)

01297-33121

Jean Falconer (Secretary)

01297-33708

David Bromley (Treasurer)

01297-631801

Beverley Perkins (Membership Secretary)

01297-631801

Lesley Rew (Talks Organiser)

07900-827689