planting, gardening, gardens, plants, planting, design, special shrubs

Good garden design can be as simple as getting the right plant in the right place

Whilst last week, we looked at some of the graceful floral forerunners of the spring, such as Snowdrop Galanthus nivalis and Winter Aconite Eranthis hyemalis, if we design our gardens carefully there are other specialist plants that occur naturally at other levels and locations, which can provide us with charming sights and scents.

plants, gardens, gardening, planting, rose, hellebore

White Helleborus orientalis in bloom in February

A plant that has been “on-the-go” for quite some time in milder gardens, but which is about to enter its key bloom period, is the Hellebore (Helleborus orientalis and other cultivars); these certainly brighten up the woodland or shadier parts of the garden. The glossy dark green foliage highlights the true beauty of the rose-like flower. This Eurasian perennial is also called Lenten Rose (as its blooming period coincides with the period of Lent in Christian churches) or Christmas Rose (as it is often in flower in December in milder gardens).  Interestingly, in mediaeval times, there was a superstition that they were good for breaking bad spells and curses so were often planted next to the front door.

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In flower, Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ giving super scent to the winter garden

If we use our noses properly, to sniff our way around the garden, we cannot help but be overwhelmed by the strong scent of the Daphne, a most charming shrub that is in flower at this time of year.  I really am in awe of this plant, it is evergreen, fills a good space and its attractive flowers really can help lift the spirits at this somewhat low key time of year in the garden.  One thing that we really must do is plan our gardens so that there is a flow, a journey around them.  We can use colour scent, texture and form to tempt us onwards.  The Daphne with its sweet scent can really be a honey pot providing onwards enthusiasm on a cold day.  Well worth the reward.

Many of the winter and early flowering plants are modest and just flick out from sleeping nature, but not the showy flowers of Camellia. With its vivid and alive appearance, it is a real spring-cheer offering something special in milder gardens with acidic soils. Growing to a good sized evergreen shrub it is useful as a corner plant or amongst a grouping of other shrubs to provide both structure and seasonal interest.  It prefers a sheltered and partially shady spot and benefits from feeding after flowering to encourage the growth of next year’s blooms.

gardens, plants, gardening, design, planters, evergreen, shrubs

Camellia japonica providing a floristic splash at the start of the season

Camellia’s symbolise the emotions of passion and desire whilst also representing perfection, faithfulness and longevity. Not bad for one shrub!  The plant is native to Japan and China where it is the symbol of the young sons and daughters. A variety of Camellia (Camellia sinensis) also produces our every day drink, tea, thus making it one of our most important plants in cultivation.

The Camellia also represents the coming of spring, an opening of a new life, therefore it is often used in floral design as a wedding decoration, as well as giving us a lift at the start of the gardening year.  Cheers to that!

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