Winter Wonders


Sarcococaa (pictured) is one of the best shade tolerant shrubs for planting under trees and in similar situations. The species originate in China and the Himalayas and are related to the common box, buxus. Slow growing, they spread by suckering shoots. With dark green leaves and small insignificant but fragrant flowers they also produce berry like fruits. Sarcococca grows well in shade but will also grow in full sun if the roots are kept moist. The one in the photograph was taken a couple of days ago in one of Munster’s most magnificent gardens.

Libertia peregrinians looks like a miniature phormium but established plants also produce sprays of white triangular flowers. It looks lovely planted in full sun as light shines through its foliage in sunny evenings.

Brighten up a blank wall, pillar or garden shed with the very popular and reliable Winter Jasmine. This plant produces masses of yellow starry like flowers on bare stems in winter and is very easy to grow. The stems are bright green, which is an added bonus as it makes the plant appear evergreen. It can be left to ramble over a low fence or wall but will need support if grown vertically. It is very easy to propagate and cuttings can be taken from May to July. Grow a summer flowering clematis with it for year round colour and interest.


In the fruit garden

Blueberries, vaccinium corybosum, are a super food with fantastic antioxidant qualities. They can be grown very easily in the ground if you have very acid soil. If you don’t, all is not lost as they do very well in pots. Just make sure they are planted using lots of ericaceous soil such as brown gold. Use as big a container or pot as you can to allow for continued growth. Blueberries don’t necessarily need a pollination partner to produce fruit but a second plant from a different variety will increase your crop. Position in full sun or light shade. It is recommended that rain water be used if possible when watering blueberries as tap water may be too limey.

To do this week…

–       Keep feeding the birds;

–       Prune overgrown shrubs such as forsythia etc, to encourage more flowers;

–       Start stocking up on summer flowering bulbs such as lilies and dahlias;

–       Cut off old foliage from Hellebores, new leaves will grow as the flowers emerge;

–       Prune out reverted green foliage from variegated shrubs such as Euonymous ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’;

–       Check that young trees and shrubs are not being blown about too much by the wind.

Written by

I am passionate about gardening and creating outdoor spaces that are gorgeous, adventurous, productive and fun. I have been advising and designing gardens for many years starting with friends and family as well as developing my own garden design in Cork near Crosshaven. I have been doing this whilst bearing and rearing our four children, who also garden with me and share my interest and passion, especially in the vegetable and fruit garden. I am the Gardening columnist for the Cork Independent free newspaper. I take all my own photographs for my articles on gardening and will also customise cards for clients using photographs taken in their home and garden.

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