The Winter Garden.

And so it goes on, this is not what we are used to in Suffolk. The snow plough had to clear the top of the lane. We bravely ventured out, and even the Pianist wore his bear suit, his is a fetching shade of blue but it has no ears. I think bear suits should have ears. To make up for this he wears a furry hat. One of the great advantages of getting older is not caring what you look like.

I don’t know whether we are being singled out here in the East, but if we are I think it’s a poor show. Talking about bear suits, I was very taken by an item of news the other day in the Derbyshire Times with the headline ‘Lockdown fine for naked man’. Presumably, it is not so cold in Derbyshire. A man was fined £200 for breaking lockdown and parking in a closed car park. He said his journey was necessary to buy wet wipes and he took some wrong turnings and got lost. I don’t know whether wet wipes are essential items. He didn’t explain why he was sitting in his car completely naked but the story cheered me up enormously. I am not sure whether the fine was for going out, for being in a closed car park or forgetting to put his clothes on, but presumably £200 covers the lot and is a lesson to us all.

But I digress, let’s rewind to last Friday when the sun shone, the birds sang and my winter garden sparkled. Spring was really in the air or so we thought. Here we are at the winter garden. If you look carefully you will see a ghost lurking in the top left of the photo, but never mind that, here is Hamamelis ‘Jelena’ looking wonderful with Cornus ‘Winter Fire’.

The witch hazels are the best they have ever been this year.

Hamamelis ;Jelena’
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelelna’

‘Jelena’ looks fabulous with the orange cornus and to the right, the ghostly white stems of Rubus thibetanus ‘Silver Fern’ which is not quite as invasive as the more common, Rubus cockburnianus. But still I keep it firmly under control

The coloured stems of cornus are wonderful for the winter garden and I have them in red, orange, yellowy green and black. The best orange one is ‘Anny’s Winter Orange’ but I forgot to take a photo of it and it doesn’t look very orange right now. The next one is the very vigorous Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’ which is supposed to be golden but it is more yellowy green. Behind it is the holly-like ‘Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki Tricolour’ and behind that a phormium. I am very keen on lots of contrasting shape and form in the winter garden.

The black Cornus kesselringii is a good foil for the white blossom of my Japanese Apricot.

The thin stems to the right of the birch tree belong to another cornus, this one is a low growing suckering one called Cornus sericea ‘Kelseyii’. To the right of the birch is Abies koreana which I love for its shape and its wonderful cones which stand like candles on the tips of the branches.

Cornus stolonifera ‘Kelseyii’ is a neat, thin stemmed cornus which suckers and makes a nice dense bush. The stems are reddish brown.

Cornus stolonifera ‘Kelslyii’

To the right of the little cornus is Betula albosinensis ‘Pink Champagne’.

Abies koreana

I like to have lots of coloured stems in the winter garden but I also include a few conifers. On the photo below you can see the red stemmed Acer pensylvaticum ‘Erythrocladum’ in the foreground and red Cornus alba ‘Baton Rouge’ behind the abies. The conifer to the left is Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans’ which usually turns a coppery bronze in winter but this year is staying stubbornly green.

I love rich chestnut brown stems too and the peeling bark of Prunus serrula looks fabulous with Meulenbergia astonii which is like tangled copper wire.

Muhlenbergia astonii with Prunus serrula

Evergreens are an important part of the winter garden. The native daphne laureola pops up all over my garden and I value it for the shiny, evergreen leaves. The epimedium in front of it will have its leaves cut off soon so that the flowers stand out.

Photinia fraseri ‘Pink Marble’ is another evergreen and I love the way the leaves are variegated with pink and cream.

Photinia fraseri ‘Marbled Pink’

Another shrub with pink leaves which looks good all year round is Lophomyrtus x ralphii from New Zealand.

Lophomyrtus x ralphii ‘Red Dragon’

Sarcococcas are evergreen and the smell when you walk past them is wonderful.

Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna
Sarcococca confusa

The shrub Edgeworthia chrysantha has little yellow button flowers which are fragrant. Before the snow arrived the buds were just about to come out. I am worried about it tonight though because the temperature is supposed to be going below -7 c.

Edgeworthia chhrysantha

I am also very worried about the flowers on my white Japanese Apricot, Prunus mume ‘Omoi -no-mama’, it is my pride and joy.

Prunus mume ‘Omoi-no-mmama’
Prunus mume ‘Omoi-no-mama’

I have shown you several witch hazels in recent posts and now my first yellow one is in bloom. It is called Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Westerstede’ and like most of the yellow flowered ones its leaves go buttery yellow in the autumn.

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Westerstede’

Nearby I have a yellow leaved choisya called Choisya ternata ‘Goldfingers’. As I said, I like contrasting foliage and texture so this is planted with the silver hedgehog holly, Ilex ferox ‘Argentea’ and a curly hazel, Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’

And then we come to the the stumpery and beyond this is where I have been working for weeks developing a new part of the garden. But that is for another day.

Of course there are many different snowdrops down here, I know quite a few bloggers don’t quite get the snowdrop obsession, so I will show you just a few to try and convince you that they don’t all look the same.

Galanthus ‘Godfrey Owen’
Galanthus ‘Wendy’s Gold’
Galanthus ‘Robin Hood’
Galanthus ‘Titania’
Galanthus ‘Bill Bishop’
Galanthus ‘Diggory’
Galanthus ‘Angelique’
Galanthus ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’

I might have to show you some more another day when the snow has gone. And then there are the hellebores too but they will have to wait. The winter garden is worth another visit because it looks better and better as the spring comes on.

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27 Responses to The Winter Garden.

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    That is a lot of snow for your area! Is it very cold, too? I hope your tender plants will be okay, fingers crossed.

    • Chloris says:

      We often get a cold spell in February but it usually only lasts for a few days. This time it was a week. I know this is nothing like your long winter freeze ups.

      • Eliza Waters says:

        We used to get 6 weeks with temps staying below freezing mid-Dec. to Feb. but now there is no ‘normal’ and we can get a range of yo-yo weather. It’s been cold and snowy for a few weeks, but at least our plants are adapted to the cold and aren’t bothered by it. What is the worst is a rapid warm up in April, enticing plants to bud out and if we get a hard freeze it can be bad, particularly for fruit production.

  2. Really lovely witch hazels. Makes me wish for more. We are in a deep freeze for foreseeable future.

    • Chloris says:

      I love witch hazels, nothing cheers up winter quite like they do. Your winters seem harder and longer lasting than ours, but then your spring comes all in a rush and catches up with us.

  3. Kris P says:

    Your garden seems larger every time I see it. I’ve become fond of snowdrops myself just from reading posts like yours about them, not that there’s any chance of their growing here. I look forward to seeing the area under development. I hope this most recent arctic blast is your last.

    • Chloris says:

      My garden gets bigger because I keep nibbling at the woolly boundaries. Spring is certainly in the air, if it would just stop raining, everything would look different.

  4. I see your garden made it through the first snow. Here on the Gulf Coast we are getting down to -10c, which is very unusual. Seems we are all going through the same things, bad weather and virus.

  5. Tina says:

    Brrr–it definitely looks like winter! Stay warm and dream of spring and summer in your lovely garden.

  6. Annette says:

    Your winter garden is absolutely magical and I hope the flowers don’t suffer too much under the snow. No doubt the white magic will soon disappear. Until then stay strong, warm and cheerful xx

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Annette, the snow has gone now but it all looks a bit soggy still. We are hoping for a bit of sunshine to dry it all out. Is it getting warmer down there yet?

  7. rusty duck says:

    Looking marvellous. I too love winter stems and am developing a Cornus collection. I love ‘Flaviramea’. Mine is lost to a neglected part of the garden but hopefully still there under the weeds somewhere! ‘Winter Fire’ is a stunning choice to accompany the witch hazel.
    Is the Lophomyrtus fully hardy? It’s a great splash of colour but looks like something that wouldn’t make it down here with the heavy wet soil.

    • Chloris says:

      You can’t beat cornus for the winter garden. I think ‘Anny’s Winter Orange’ is even better than ‘Winter Fire’ . I worried that the Lophomyrtus might not be hardy but it has come through several winters unscathed. It ‘s worth a try as it looks good all year round

  8. tonytomeo says:

    All those Cornus are nice, but that bramble makes me cringe. I mean, it looks so much like the bramble that is so difficult to control, and is so unpleasant to work with.. The white canes sound appealing in descriptions, but do not look very showy. I sort of want to see it directly, in a local garden.I have never seen it here.

    • Chloris says:

      The bramble is unremarkable in summer but the white stems really show up in the winter garden when there is no foliage around. The variety I grow is not too invasive as long as I keep an eye on it.

      • tonytomeo says:

        I do not doubt the appeal. It just makes me cringe because it is related to the other bramble. I dislike the various species of Rhus too, just because they are related to poison oak.

  9. Cathy says:

    Always a joy to share your garden, Chloris, and am I right in thinking some photos have crept in of your recently reclaimed boundaries? I am so looking forward to seeing your fancy map and trying to orientate myself within the garden – is it nearing completion? You certainly have had a lot of snow and I am pleased to see you both getting wear out of your bear suits!

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, you did get a glimpse of a bit of my new garden. I think the map is on hold at the moment as my lovely map maker is tied up with packing up to move. Trying to move to another country during a pandemic and with Brexit problems is a nightmare.

      • Cathy says:

        I thought that would be the case – and of course their move will take priority over your map…which will be a work of art knowing her talent, not just a bog-standard map of the garden!

  10. I’m glad that you are both venturing out fully clothed and well equipped for the weather Chloris unlike Derbyshire Man. I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been in the east over the last week having spent my childhood on that side of the country. Your witch hazels look fabulous. I think that Cathy also said on her blog that it has been a good year for them. What would you put that down to? As always I can’t wait to see more of your snowdrops. Mine have been a great disappointment this year with many of them coming up blind which I suppose is a risk when grown in pots 😢

    • Chloris says:

      Thank goodness the snow is gone now Anna, but the ground is so soggy, goodness knows when I will be able to get on it. I don’t know why the witch hazels are so good this year but they have been the stars of winter. Have you thought of keeping some of your snowdrops in the ground and some in pots? Of course the drawback of having them in the ground is that the birds move the labels sbout.

  11. snowbird says:

    Oh, your blooms are a breath of fresh air, delightful, all of them! I couldn’t agree more re bear suits having ears and I’m laughing out loud at the naked man story, Struth! Goodness, your ghost is impressive. I’d be sleeping with one eye open if I were

    • Chloris says:

      I’m glad the Derbyshire man story tickled you too Dina. I have to disappoint you about my ghost though, it’s actually my banana plant wrapped up in fleece. A ghost would be much more fun.

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