There are plenty of eye-catching evergreen plants to keep the garden from looking gloomy in January. Some of them are very common and fade into the background in spring and summer, but they are priceless nonetheless for their attractive foliage and stems at a time when many other trees and shrubs are so bare. A few of these planted here and there will provide nice focal points around your garden without being too high maintenance or pricey.
Pittosporums are grown for their attractive glossy leaves. They can also be used as a hedge or windbreak. Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom thumb’ forms a low dense bush with its bronze-purple foliage. Pittosporum ‘Irene Paterson’ has white leaves speckled green and can grow up to 1.5 metres. Ideally suited to a sheltered spot in sun or semi-shade and in moist well-drained soil, these garden staples are available in most garden centres.
Cornus canadennsis, known as the Creeping Dogwood, is a ground covering plant which bears white flowers in summer. Red fruits appear later in the season when its leaves turn bright red. I have one in a bed based by a spiral clipped box (Buxus) and they really set one another off. Hillside garden centre in Glounthaune have this at the moment.
I have mentioned my appreciation for orange stemmed Cornus ‘midwinter fire’ and the red stems of the Cornus ‘Sibirica’ in previous articles, but the lime green-yellow shoots of Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’ are worth having too for this time of year. I planted three of these in the wooded area of our garden interspersed with ‘Midwinter fire’, variegated Eleagnus and Camellias. They look fabulous now and will be enhanced further in another few weeks when daffodils make an appearance.
Leptospurnum scorparium is an evergreen shrub that tolerates clay soil. ‘Nicholsii’ has purple foliage and crimson flowers in summer and is another great contrast plant in the winter border. It shares space in a large bed in our garden with Viburnum bodnantense (pictured). This is a deciduous shrub and produces heavily scented flowers from late Autumn to Spring. It grows in a upright manner and is perfect at the back of the border. A sprig or two brought inside fills the room with its delicious scent, an extra bonus always!
Heated propagators are for sale in B & Q now for relatively small money. With one of these you can start summer bedding flowers such as begonias, verbena and geraniums for later use in window boxes, pots and hanging baskets. You will make savings very quickly by raising your own plants in this way. Just follow the instruction on the seed pack and off you go.