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Despite the recent cold snap work under glass continues

Salvia cuttings in January

Mid January finally saw a dose of cold weather which in many ways was welcome as it has helped to slow a few things down.

However despite the frost we are continuing to take cuttings when possible.  These Salvia cuttings were taken before Christmas and are now looking really rather good. 

The colder clearer weather is actually a help when trying to strike cuttings as it brings higher light levels and allows the humidity to drop which reduces problems with botrytis.


Viburnum tinus - It may be common but it is still well worth growing

Viburnum tinus in flower

Viburnum tinus or 'Laurustinus' is a shrub that is so commonly grown that it can easily be overlooked as simply an anonymous bit of green. 

However this is far from fair to a plant that can with suitable care and attention produce a handsome shrub which provides some very welcome flower during the winter.

As a larger / mature shrub it benefits from being opened up and skirted so that you can plant beneath it as well as giving it a chance to develop a pleasing structure.  That way hopefully it won't simply disappear into the background.


Winter ivy - Hedera 'Goldheart'

Hedera 'Goldheart' - mature leaves with berries

Perhaps amongst the toughest and showiest of all evergreen foliage plants are the Hederas or ivies.

H. 'Goldheart' is a classic variegated ivy which produces a really bold display which is effective throughout the year but particularly welcome in winter. 

Mature ivies are also of great assistance to garden wildlife as they provide a late source of nectar for insects when they flower in autumn, a great place for insects to hide when over-wintering and are a favourite place for many small birds to build their nests. 


Winter ferns and epimediums - the joy of foliage.

Polystichum bevis with Epimedium leaves

A variety of evergreen foliage is the secret to the winter garden - in this case a blend of ferns (Polystichum setiferum plumosum bevis) with the leaves of Epimediums.

Both provide good tough winter structure that looks good regardless of the weather - in this case a rare bit of winter sun! 

I know many people cut back Epimediums to ensure the flowers get seen however I tend to value the leaves over the flowers, which generally poke through the canopy anyway.


Another Salvia out of season!

Salvia g. 'Black and Blue' in flower in winter

I recently spotted this unseasonal Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' providing a bit of unexpected drama in an otherwise very green winter garden.

While normally this is this is a great performer in late summer and autumn the lack of frost has simply allowed it to continue happily into the new year.


Winter hellebores - Helleborus argutifolius

Helleborus arguitifolius in flower in winter

Amongst the early flowerer in the winter garden are the Hellebores, including the Christmas rose, H. Niger, the stinking Hellebore, H. foetidus and the Corsican Hellebore (old name H. corsicus) H argutifolius - pictured.

They are all well worth growing and H. foetidus and H. argutifolius provide dramatic foliage displays later in the year.


Not forgetting the continuing display from Cyclamen hederifolium

Cyclamen hederifolium leaves in mid winter

I couldn't go singing the praises of Cyclamen coum without giving its autumn flowering cousin, Cyclamen hederifolium a more than passing mention.

While the flowers of the ivy leaved cyclamen have long passed, the beautifully patterned leaves are a real treasure at this time of year showing up against last years fallen leaves and the dark wet soil. Even if it didn't flower I would happily grow it for its foliage alone.


Cyclamen coum - a winter gem!

Pans of Cyclamen coum in flower

Some plants simply lift the spirits at this time of year whatever the weather.

A real favourite of mine is Cyclamen coum with its stubby flowers of soft pink to magenta which pair beautifully with it heart shaped, sometimes patterned leaves.

It is great to grow in terracotta pans which can be given pride of place in the winter months then left in a shady corner once the display is over - allowing the cyclamen to go dormant over summer ready for next winter.


Something more appropriate to early January

Eranthis hyemalis - Winter Aconites - in flower

It is nice to see that some plants are doing the right thing for the time of year. 

Although possibly a little bit early, Eranthis hyemalis or the winter aconite is no stranger to the winter garden. Often in flower at the same time as snowdrops it provides a cheery splash of yellow!


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