My Christmas Present To Myself.


And it’s not chocolates and it’s certainly not soap or hand cream. Everybody gives me soap and hand cream; are they trying to tell me something? I  have a whole new bed to plant up and my Christmas present  is  a good start. I would have bought more plants but that would have meant nobody else would get a present.


In the storms a few weeks ago part of my fence blew down so we had to have new panels. It was a good chance to get rid of the overgrown holly and Pyracantha in front of it. What a horrible job, I hate Pyracantha, it is the most vicious shrub in the garden, the thorns go right through your gloves and sit festering in your fingers .Obviously it’s not a job for the Pianist.   I cut it down with great difficulty and  terrible curses and then I found a kind man with a mattock to get the roots out . Now I have a whole new bed. Part of it is in shade, but that’s all right I like shade plants.

So when I was at Beth Chatto’s recently this is what I bought. The plant with orange leaves at the back between the two ferns is  Heucherella ‘Sweet Tea’.  It is a cross between Heuchera and Tiarella. My friend, M. hates it, as she does all orange flowers. She thinks this colour is particularly bilious and totally lacking in taste. I love it and I love the  red-orange grass: Uncinia uncinata ‘Rubra’ in front of it. To complete my orange theme I have planted  the lovely tulip ‘Princess Irene’.  It is orange with a purple flame, here is a photo of some I had last year.


I have some cowslips in sunset shades which I grew last year so they will go in there too. Elsewhere in the garden I have a planting  of these cowslips  round the peeling cinnamon bark of Acer griseum which I think is gorgeous. At the back of this bed I will plant some of the Digitalis ferruginea which has obligingly seeded around. I think this is Digitalis ferruginea, the trouble is I have grown quite a few kinds of foxgloves over the years and I get them muddled up. Sometimes they get themselves muddled up and I get unusual children popping up which is nice.


That is Pip’s rear end on the right. He is camera-shy.

To calm all this tasteless orange down I bought two ferns. The one on the right is the dainty, maidenhair fern; Adiantum pedatum ‘Imbricatum’.  The other is Dryopteris wallichiana which has black, bristly stems and lovely bright green fronds. I love the pretty, green leaves of the little Saxifraga dentata which is in front of the Uncinia.

Bergenia  cordifolia is great at this time of the year and this one ‘Eroica’ has lovely, glossy, burgundy coloured leaves. It has deep pink flowers too. Oh dear, with all that orange? I know it is a shame but I’m going to have to cut the flowers off  or plant it somewhere else. I wasn’t thinking about the flowers when I bought it.

I love ferns and grasses and this little black grass,Ophiopgon nigrescens is stunning. I will plant some snowdrops in front of it and next to it the Christmas Rose, Helleborus Niger. I have some more Hellebores grown from seed waiting to go in here too. Behind the black grass I will plant the windflower; Anemone multifida with its  pale lemon flowers, like up-market buttercups.

The red leaves at the back belong to a Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker’s Red’ which I love for its beetroot red leaves. It has white flowers.  On the far right by the Penstemon is the foam flower; Tiarella cordifolia ‘Jeepers Creepers’. it has a lovely chocolate- coloured marking on the leaves. Finally, I bought the widow iris; Hermodactylis tuberosus which has  sinister-looking black and jade green flowers.

It would have been nice to have bought several of each of these plants to make groups, but  I’m afraid too expensive. In the interests of economy I always have to go for a tapestry effect rather than broad sweeps. But if things do well then it is usually possible to propagate them. Except for the ferns; I’ve never tried messing about with spores. I’m not sure how to go about it.

Obviously the bed is not finished but I will add to it as the seasons go by. I’m not sure what to plant on the fence. It would be lovely to get some suggestions.  Anyway, I am pleased with my present, it was just what I wanted. And how often, with all sincerity, can you say that about a Christmas present?

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10 Responses to My Christmas Present To Myself.

  1. Anna says:

    Christmas presents to yourself are hard to beat as you can be assured that you will like them 🙂 I always treat myself to a couple of books each year to read over the festive period. What a lovely assortment of plants including one or two familiar friends and what an excellent nursery you visited to buy them from. Look forward to reading about how they settle in and knit together in the future.

  2. I am lucky to be close to some good nurseries, Anna. These plants came from Beth Chatto.
    You are right, books are also a good present to yourself. Nobody else seems to choose quite right when it comes to books and plants.

  3. Pauline says:

    What a fantastic selection of plants, so much contrast between the leaves too. You might be ok with the bergenia, will the others be flowering at the same time? A Christmas present to yourself is the best present there could be!

  4. Chloris says:

    I think the Tulip ‘Princess Irene’ may well be in flower at the same time. A bit too garish together. My friend M. would be appalled.

  5. Those orange Tulips are lovely! Your description of the thorny shrubs sounded familiar. That can be a painful job!

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, Prinses Irene is a beauty. Named after Prinses Irene of the Netherlands apparently-hence the odd spelling. The purple flame means you can match it with purple flowers or foliage too. And it has a slight fragrance. So lovely in every way.

  6. Ricki Grady says:

    Greetings from a fellow lover of orange. I, too, am constrained by budget, but happy plants will soon provide groupings, if not ‘drifts’, so patience is all it takes. Thanks for leaving a comment on Sprig to Twig, especially since it led me to your beautiful blog.

  7. Chloris says:

    Thank you for your comment.I agree good plants will spread or you can propagate them. If a plant dies you can be pleased that you only bought one.
    I enjoyed your blog.

  8. Gisou says:

    What a nice choice of Christmas plants ! I love orange tulips too, and bought (and planted this autumn) tulipa ‘Orange Emperor’ and ‘Apricot Impression’. And a botanic variety, tulipa sprengerii. After a long and grey winter, I need some colors !

  9. Chloris says:

    I admire your choice of tulips,Gisou. Growing Tulipa Sprengerii is the mark of the connoiseur. It is a beautiful late flowering tulip, not often available, but if it is happy it seeds around.
    I love your blog , you have so many roses I have never seen before.

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