End of month View. February. The Winter Garden.

I am a day late, but nevertheless I hope that I am not too late to join in with the Patientgardener‘s End of the Month meme. I am focusing on my latest project and I will revisit it in future EOM posts to see how it progresses. I mentioned some time ago that I wanted to make a garden for winter interest because although I grow many plants that are beautiful in winter, they don’t make much impact as they are dotted about the garden.

I chose a neglected corner of the orchard. And when I say neglected, I am not exaggerating, it was positively shameful.
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When I dug up the entire front lawn four years ago I couldn’t straighten my body for days and I wasn’t looking forward to doing it again. I don’t have a gardener, but on this occasion I decided to get help. (No, not the Pianist, he keeps telling me that he has to look after his hands. ) But I found Paul and Julie, a really enthusiastic husband and wife team who seem happy to tackle anything.
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They set to work digging up turf and I tackled the horrors of decades on the other side of what is going to be a grass path. I found ivy, nettles and elder seedlings amongst bricks and rubble. There was even an ancient pig sty hidden in the undergrowth.
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There is the dreaded honey fungus in the orchard which has killed many of the apple trees, but this fungus is a different one and rather beautiful.
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I began to wonder what I was going to find next, buried in the rubbish of centuries. Maybe that is where my toolshed monster is hiding, ready to leap out and  jeer at me.
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Planting it up is exciting, but expensive. I have moved quite a few  plants here from other parts of the garden. I find most things move alright, apart from Daphnes. Never move a Daphne, it will cause instant death. From other parts of the garden I have moved two Witch Hazels; orange ‘Jelena and red ‘Livia’ and Lonicera elisae which is lovely though not highly scented.

Lonicera elisae

Lonicera elisae

Arbutus unedo ‘Rubra’  has found a new home here and also the lovely red Cryptomeria japonica ‘Rubra’.

I think conifers are great for all round interest as long as they are not overdone. I bought the glowing yellow miniature pine  Pinus mugo ‘Golden Glow’, a dwarf Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Fernspray’ a blue prostrate juniper; Juniperus squamata ‘Holger’  and the gorgeous Abies koreana which when it is mature has lovely upright cones like candles.

I love the orange Cornus sanguinea ‘Winter Flame’ so I had to have some of these. Incidentally you will sometimes find it named ‘Winter Beauty’ but as far as I can make out this is the same thing.  I bought some red Cornus alba ‘Siberica’ which is so dramatic in Winter, behind this one I am going to plant the Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’ which looks rather like a holly.

Cornus alba 'Siberica' and Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Goshiki'

Cornus alba ‘Siberica’ and Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’

When I was at Anglesey Abbey recently I bought three lovely bright red Cornus which I had never seen before  called Baton Rouge’. It is a much  brighter red than the ‘Westonbirt’.

Cornus alba 'Baton Rouge'

Cornus alba ‘Baton Rouge’

A Cornus you don’t see so often is much finer stemmed Cornus sericea ‘Kelseyi’ which makes a nice compact shrub. The leaves turn a lovely red and orange in winter.

Cornus sericea 'Kelseyi'

Cornus sericea ‘Kelseyi’

I love grasses and I think the red Uncinia rubra is a perfect match for the Cornus.

Uncinia rubra

Uncinia rubra

Grasses are so effective in Winter, so I have bought a few more and I will be adding to them.

I have planted a birch tree which is new to me called Betula albosinensis ‘Pink Champagne. Two more trees with wonderful bark that I really want are Prunus serrula and Acer griseum.
Although I have planted snowdrops, hellebores, heucheras, heathers and primroses and a few ferns it is still looking very bare. I shall just have to be patient ; at least I have made a start.
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I will finish with a view of a different part of the garden which is in need of a bit of attention but never mind, just look at the lovely Japanese Apricot; Prunus mume ‘Beni-chidori’ it has such gorgeous, deep pink flowers which are lightly scented. I love it.
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Thank you Helen at the Patient Gardener blog for hosting the End of Month View meme. Do pop over and see what other people have been showing us in their end of month view.

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55 Responses to End of month View. February. The Winter Garden.

  1. Wow, Congratulations on a tremendous amount of work well done. It always amazes me to see actual topsoil! So rare here.

  2. A fabulously interesting post, Chloris. I like that term “buried in the rubbish of centuries”.
    Congratulations on the transformation, and for surviving the peril of digging up a Daphne and all the other hard work. The garden looks great.

    • Chloris says:

      I didn’t dig up any daphnes for this project, I have learnt from previous mistakes. I would never risk my beautiful Jacqueline Postill, the queen of the winter garden, even though I have two side by side, because I thought the first one had died when it lost all its leaves. They are both beautiful now and will have to spend their lives growing together. They are pernickety plants and suffer from sudden death at the best of times.

  3. rusty duck says:

    Wow indeed! Am loving Cornus ‘Baton Rouge’ and Pinus ‘Golden Glow’. Both of them show up well even in the long view. You’ve achieved so much and without any loss of bodily function either 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      I’ m so glad that I got help for this project or I would still be digging now, and coming in to crawl around on my hands and knees and moan pitiably. That was quite a lot of lawn to shift. I am pleased with Baton Rouge, I hadn’ t seen it until I went to Anglesey Abbey The Pine really is a glowing yellow.

  4. I have to echo the other comments – wow – so much work and space for new plants and new opportunities. It is so exciting selecting new plants for a new garden space, and I love that there is a theme for it – focused on the winter interest. It looks like such a large bed in the pictures…will you be adding stepping stones or another type of pathway through it so you can enjoy the plants that are to the middle of the bed?

    • Chloris says:

      Actually it is a large bed Rebecca, that is why I left a grass path between this large area and the bed where all the mess was on the other side. But you are right some stepping stones would be a great idea across this large bed. The only trouble is I don’ t know whether I have left enough room. I have done more planting since I wrote this post.

  5. Tina says:

    It all looks so good. Oh, I need a big garden project, but then I’d want to hire Paul and Julie and I bet they wouldn’t like the commute.
    I love the Cornus plants–I’m not at all familiar with those, but I love that pop of red. I noticed your ‘Sparkler’–you mentioned that you’d bought one when you commented on my blog–it looks good there; I hope you like it. I look forward to seeing the progress in this next year.

    • Chloris says:

      I agree Tina, there is nothing like a project in the garden to keep you awake at night, planning and scheming. I love Sparkler and I think if I add more grasses it will look good all year round.

  6. pbmgarden says:

    I admire the way you’ve created this winter interest garden. Can’t wait to see it mature and evolve.

  7. Kris P says:

    You’ve made a LOT of progress, Chloris! (Do Paul and Julie have any plans to visit Southern California? 😉 I’d planned to leave the remaining lawn in my garden alone until next year but it’s already bugging the heck out of me.) You’ve made a lot of great choices for your new bed and I’m glad you plan to give us a look at it as it evolves. I hope the toolshed monster keeps his distance as you go about your work elsewhere!

    • Chloris says:

      I’ m sorry I can’ t let Paul and Julie come to California until Paul has cut my hedges. He told me that he loves cutting hedges! What a find. They are going to come every 6 weeks or so to give me a hand. It will make so much difference to me. Imagine someone who likes cutting hedges.

  8. bittster says:

    I’m going to love your newest garden!
    Your idea of a start would count as a year’s work for me! I love the size of the bed and you really have a few treasures in there. I’ve been trying to start my own betula albosinensis from seed for two years but so far no luck, amazing to think you can just go out and pick one up….
    I’m glad you have so much done already. I thought your goal this year was to only start on one of the beds, it’s fantastic to see both on their way. The orchard is turning a corner although the honey fungus stumps are still a sad reminder.

    • Chloris says:

      The honey fungus haunts my dreams rather but with an ancient orchard like this it is probably everywhere. The toadstools appear in the grass a long way from any trees. Some of the stumps are what we cut down and others are probably very old. There was a birch grove of 11 trees at the bottom of the garden, there are only 7 now which you can just see on one of the photos with the bench in front. Although we still call it an orchard there aren’t very many fruit trees left. Still, they were probably all very old trees. Removing the stumps would cost a great deal of money and anyway if the black rhizomorphs are everywhere anyway, it doesn’ t help much. I am hoping that if my plants are all healthy and well fed and watered they will have resistance to the fungus. That’ s what I tell myself anyway.

  9. Oh, that toolshed monster is scary! What amazing progress you’ve made. I’m fascinated by all your plants. I’ve never grown a Daphne, but it’s good to know they don’t like to be moved. It makes you wonder how they survive at all in nature.

    • Chloris says:

      The Monster was painted for me by my son’ s talented partner last year when I wrote about my horrendously messy, pot -filled shed. Now and then when she has time she does a picture for my blog which I really appreciate.

  10. Cathy says:

    How lovely to have a new space to fill up with plants. I am sure it won’t look bare for long and already looks really attractive. I like those cornus you have chosen and the golden pine too.

    • Chloris says:

      Indeed Cathy, there is nothing like having a project and a brand new bed to fill. My usual problem is buying plants and then wondering where on earth to put them.

  11. mattb325 says:

    What a fantastic effort to get all of that done so quickly! It looks amazing and I love the choice of plants you have used. I have never seen a betula albosinensis up close, but from the images I googled, the bark on the Pink Champagne cultivar look absolutely amazing – together with the dogwoods, this area will be stunning 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      I am in a hurry to get it done as I have been planning it all Winter. Coloured stems are wonderful for Winter colour specially when the sun shines. This birch is gorgeous although mine is still very young, so won’ t look good for a few years.

  12. Jane Strong says:

    Dear Chloris, I was thinking about you when I woke up this morning after having read this post just before going to bed …. you don’t have a gardener! You take care of that huge garden all by yourself (most of the time). I am so impressed. I feel I gotta get outside and get to work. (Raining, yay!) What an inspiration you are! I think I will make a sunny summer garden ….. to heck with all the restrictions, government or self-imposed! Daphne is so fussy here, you can’t even move the pot without it beginning to languish.

    • Chloris says:

      Daphne is such a prima Donna but it is well worth cosseting. The garden is rather a lot of work but I have always had big gardens so I am used to it. And I would rather be working in the garden than anything else.

  13. Julie says:

    I can relate to 4 days of digging and a wonky back! Glad you found some help with this as the size of your new border looks really exciting and enormous! It must be brilliant to have the space to plan something like this. Love your choices so far, especially the trees. Your fungus is a Turkey Tail Fungus, Trametes versicolor.

    • Chloris says:

      It is great to have a blank canvas to work on, so much of the garden was well established and I had to work round other peoples’ planting ideas. Thank you for the name for the fungus. I wondered what it was.

  14. Flighty says:

    Goodness what a busy, but interesting post. It’ll be good to be this area later in the year once the plants have grown. xx

    • Chloris says:

      Yes it needs to have time to establish now and for the plants to fill out a bit. I have to resist the temptation to plant any more shrubs or it will be overcrowded in a few years.

  15. Angie says:

    What a huge difference already. I love how each plant you’ve chose really shows up in the wider shot Chloris. I love the colour of the little Pinug mugo – it’s almost electric!.
    I have a log of Birch wood in the side garden with a very similar fungus growing on it – and agree it’s rather beautiful looking. Well done on all off you getting of to a good start – I look forward to seeing how it all progresses as the year marches on.

    • Chloris says:

      Julie tells me that it is a Turkey Tail fungus. The pine is a gorgeous colour,I am looking forward to it growing a bit. In fact I can’ t wait for everything to grow a bit.

  16. threadspider says:

    Wow, wow. I take my hat off to you and the team for creating that gorgeous new border. I know just what hard work stripping turf off is. I like your planting choices, especially the evergreens and the grasses and the birch sounds very exciting.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you. Yes, it is back- breaking, I was so glad to find people to help me. I have dug up so many lawns in the last few years that I couldn’t face digging it all up myself.

  17. snowbird says:

    Oh my! How exciting!! And how amazing that it looks so good already, everything will be beautifully padded out by the end of summer, I shall really enjoy following the development of this lovely winter border. I love your plant selection too.xxx

    • Chloris says:

      It is exciting, I do love a project and having a blank canvas to work on is my favourite way of gardening. It does look a bit bare at the moment but I must resist the temptation to put more shrubs in and overcrowd it.

  18. gardenfancyblog says:

    New garden areas are always so exciting! Although they do demand much of our patience to wait for things to fill in — maybe you could put a few well-behaved annuals there this spring to satisfy your (very human) need for observable progress? I can’t wait to see what the area will look like in a few winters’ time. Thanks for sharing your progress report! -Beth

    • Chloris says:

      I do want to keep it looking good in Summer too Beth, even though the main focus will be Winter and Spring. I have to give some thought to how I will do this. Lilies would be nice and yes, perhaps some annuals.

  19. What a big undertaking! Such hard work, but it’s looking good already. You have a wonderful selection of plants there. So much colour too – a perfect winter garden! I love all your Cornus. I think they look stunning when planted en masse and they look particularly effective when partnered with grasses. In our Woodland Garden we have what I call my “Dog’s Bed” – a collection of coloured stem Cornus. I’ve teamed them up with Carex buchananii, as well as Bergenia, not forgetting some snowdrops. Nice too to see some conifers included. I’m starting to change my opinion of them. They’ve been unfashionable for so long, and I’m beginning to think unfairly so. They have so many interesting features – as long as you choose wisely! Can’t wait to see the garden’s progress!

    • Chloris says:

      Conifers have been out of fashion for years, along with heathers, which is a shame because so many of them are beautiful. These are all small ones which won’ t grow too tall. I have selected ones with different colours and the Abies koreana for its wonderful cones.
      I am definitely going to plant more bergenias , some of them have wonderful coloured leaves in winter.

      • I would love to “refresh” the conifer’s image, by finding new and interesting ways of combining them with other plants. (Mind you, I think the Bloom family may already be doing just that.) Maybe heathers are starting to make a come back – I’ve seen them included in some contemporary planters recently – white heathers displayed in metal window troughs outside a London bar, was a pleasing example.

  20. AnnetteM says:

    Really looking forward to watching this bed progress. I bed it will already look fabulous next winter and by the one after it will look as if it has been there for years. It always amazes me how quickly things grow and it is always best to leave the space for them to do so even though things look bare for a while.

  21. Chloris says:

    I know, even when you have been gardening for years and you know just how big things will grow, it is terribly tempting to cram things in and fill up those big empty spaces.

  22. Alison says:

    It’s so hard not to overplant when you first start a new bed, but it will soon look nicely filled in. It looks so much better than the neglected corner it was. I hope you find a spot for an Acer griseum, I have one and I love it.

    • Chloris says:

      I have an Acer griseum which I love, it is just beginning to look good after 4 years. But I really want one for my winter garden. Have you come across Prunus serrula? It has amazing bark too.

  23. Cathy says:

    Oh what progress has been made – and it won’t be long before your new plants look as if they have always been there. I intended to leave my new ‘shrub border’ till this year to fill, but not surprisingly it has been filling up nicely all by itself…. That ‘Kelseyi’ cornus looks really pretty. How much of a pig sty is there – will you be able to make it a feature in any way? Did you really not know it was there? How exciting to be finding new bits of the garden – I once dreamed I found an extra part to our garden, sadly not true…. 😉

  24. Chloris says:

    That’ s funny, I once had just the same dream. Perhaps it is a common gardener’ s dream. I did know the pig sty was there even though you have to battle through awful undergrowth and brambles to get to it. I don’ t think it could ever be a feature though. It has a huge heap of rubble next to it. I suppose in the days before skips you had to dump your rubbish in the garden.

  25. Robbie says:

    It looks like early spring in your are in February-ours it is winter, snow piled in the garden high! Today it is below freezing, ice covered roads:-(
    I enjoyed touring your yard and boy, I sure would love to see some green and dirt! What a lovely garden you are creating. I found “nine bark-Physocarpus opulifolius to have beautiful bark for winter interest for a shrub. I love the red twig dog wood( our common name here in USA) for Cornus sericea. I have a varigated leaf one. I love the dwarfs-stunning!
    I love the curved bed!

  26. Seems quite reasonable to me to get some help – you have a very large area to care for! Looks like you are off to a fine start. Perhaps fill in those bare areas with seeds for annuals?

  27. Sometimes we have to admit we can’t do it all. Hiring a helping hand is often a wise choice. 🙂 It will be beautiful! I love your addition of grasses to the mix. I agree with Jason. Annuals will fill those bare spots quickly while your waiting to add perennials.

  28. Annette says:

    Wow, you’ve been so busy, Chloris! Removing the lawn is not a job I fancy but I have to do that too for my new borders. Great to have help! Hope I can convince Monsieur to give me a hand…Did you see the Lonicera feature in The Garden? Winter Beauty is my favourite Cornus but it seems more delicate in propagation and cultivation. Baton Rouge looks great too. Your birch wood is looking very pretty – what are they? I’m looking forward to following the development of your new border.

  29. Peter/Outlaw says:

    How exciting to have so much new space to plant! New plantings always look a little sparse but you’ve chosen so many beautiful plants and they’ll fill the space in no time at all. Your Prunus mume is gorgeous. Your new header image is stunning. Is that Tropaeolum tricolor? Such a lovely thing!

  30. Debra says:

    Can’t wait to see that garden as it grows up. And -love- that monster. Now I know what it is that lurks in my shed 😉 (My husband won’t even enter our shed because it is that much of a mess.)

  31. Julieanne says:

    That’s a great start to your winter garden. I see you have many plants that are my winter favourites, such as the different cornus, Acer Griseum and Prunus Serrula. It will all take time to fill out, that’s a rather large border after all, but it’s looking good already.

  32. Anna says:

    Oh what an exciting start Chloris! No doubt you must want it to grow and magically knit together instantly – I know I would. I’m looking forward to future bulletins.

  33. We have loads of garden/turf digging ahead of us. I could use a team of helpers too. But oh the panting of new garden beds. Now if we could lose all this snow….it will still be many weeks of waiting here.

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