Now that most of the leaves are off the trees and shrubs, the garden has taken on a different look, but there is still plenty of interest. Our white and green variegated Holly (Ilex aquifolium ‘Argenteomarginatum’) has grown beautifully in a dry, shady spot and has plenty of growth that can be lightly trimmed to decorate the tops of pictures in the dining room over Christmas.
The star of the show is our Fatsia japonica; its huge shiny leaves make this a beautiful evergreen in a dry, shady border. The tropical appearance belies the plants toughness – hailing from Japan the tops get pruned by hard frosts but it grows back in spring as if nothing had happened! The curious white flowers appear through October and November and remind me of giant Ivy flowers. This plant is such a good doer with just a light prune and feed each spring.
The Dogwoods have dropped their leaves now and Cornus alba ‘Siberica’ glows in a damp shady corner with upright, ‘Santa suit’ red stems, whilst in the front garden the olive green stems of our Cornus sericia ‘Flaviramea’ are making good upright plants since I pruned them back brutally last spring! They had the most beautiful butter yellow leaves this autumn before they fell.
Talking of yellow, a walk in the garden this morning revealed the first flowers on our winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum). These always bring a smile to my face. For most of the year, the plant goes unnoticed on a shady fence where it is an untidy mass of green stems. The leaves are quite attractive in a deep green, plastic looking way but they have dropped now. The perennials in front of the fence have died back for the winter, so the Jasmine is once again in the limelight. The flowers appear over a long season - carrying right through the winter until March, when the yellow on the fence is replaced by the yellows and golds of daffodils. Only the hardest of frosts damage the flowers, if the sun gets onto them before they have thawed out.
Lurking under an evergreen Euphorbia mellifera, which has been damaged in the last three winters but always grows back, is another winter flowering shrub, Sarcococca that is excellent in dry shade. The wavy, deep green leaves are always glossy and look impossibly healthy! In late winter, tiny white flowers appear up the stems. Their sweet scent will waft around the garden on warm days and have visitors hunting for the source. They find it hard to believe that such an unassuming shrub can pack such a scented punch!
I would not be without the Box in our garden. Ours are clipped into balls and pyramids, making strong shapes especially when covered in snow or frosts! Standing alone in their small borders through winter, they are surrounded by daffodils and tulips in spring and perennial Geraniums through the summer. The first of the daffodils have made an appearance through this mild weather that we have had and my early variety ‘Rinjveld’s Early Sensation’ should be in flower before Christmas to keep some of the Box balls company!