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Planning Retirement Online

Laterlife Gardening Review

by Rosemary Martin

Each month I review a particular aspect of gardening, including new plants and products and where to buy them. Gardening is a vast subject and as far as possible the subjects covered will be seasonal.

Please e-mail me (Rosemary) with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of laterlife


As well as the spotlight topic below, take a look at the Gardener's Diary, if you haven't already done so. It includes all those jobs in the garden for October.

October - 2002

Winter colour

I place more importance on winter colour in the garden than summer flowers. From October through to February, we can only gaze out at our gardens from the warmth of our houses, often with precious little else to see other than the deadened foliage of the previous season`s herbaceous perennials, dull deciduous shrubbery, and trees that are stripped bare of their leaves. And yet there are so very many beautiful evergreen and variagated shrubs and trees to be found. There are winter berries for colour and deciduous shrubs grown mainly for their vivid bark which brightens up a cheerless winter scene. I love the colours of my garden in the gloomy months, it cheers me up so much, and was carefully planned to do just that, for us and visitors.  

My garden has been planted with a great many evergreen architectural plants and shrubs, and is an ever changing tapestry which sets the garden ablaze with colour during the winter months. Even the trees were chosen for their winter colour and texture. For example I have some Silver Birch trees, Betula utilis Jacquemontii, which have startling white smooth bark that looks as if it has been whitewashed, and about five different varieties of Eucalyptus trees which have blue foliage, some with whitish pink bark. They look stunning and are quite hardy. I have dogwoods that are pretty mundane when they are adorned with foliage during the summer months, but when the leaves drop, wow, the brilliant reds, greens and yellows of their bark really brightens up the garden. There is a new dogwood I have, which to my mind is particularly beautiful and is suitably named Cornus sanguinea `Midwinter Fire`.

I also take care to make sure that the textures and colours don`t clash with each other by first placing groups of plants or shrubs together, much the same as if one was matching fabrics and wallpaper. I often look at a border and think that perhaps something doesn`t quite fit,and would perhaps look better a few feet along the border. If that happens I water the offending plant well for a few hours, then move it to it`s new home, having first prepared a large enough hole with compost and water. I don`t lose any plants at all.  So don`t worry if you don`t get it right first time!

I have walked around my garden and listed below some of my colourful and structural favourites for you to look up in your gardening book, or on the internet. The names of some of them may not be spelt correctly..  

Silver Birch Jacquemontii

Cotoneaster Lonicera purpusii Pine trees Blue cedrus

Cordyline Australis

Euonymus Elaeagnus Red bark maple Eucalyptus

Bottlebrush (Callistemon)

Golden Choisya Acanthus Rosemary Gladwin Iris
Lavender Bay laurel Yew  Clematis Armandii Arbutus unedo
 Pyracanthus       Escallonia Phygellius      Myrtle Senecio sunshine
Holly Rhododendron Azalea Portugese laurel Artemisia
Viburnum Tinus Var. Tree heathers Box Box Eleagnus
Berberis Skimmia Osmanthus Photinia Red Robin Ceanothus
Forsythia Dogwoods Pieris Yukka Hebes
Mahonia Charity Euphorbia Characias Helleborus Heathers Crinodendron
Phormium  Fatsia Japonica Lonicera - Bag. Gold Bamboo Nigra Coloured sages

Spend some time on a lazy autumn or winter day looking round some garden centres and see what they have in the way of plants with winter interest. It is surprising how many people only visit their local garden centres on a warm sunny day. They often miss the best stuff...         

Next spotlight section will be Spring 2003 .. 

If you have a subject you would like spotlighting next year,  please e-mail me (Rosemary)


Have a look at previous editions of Gardener`s Diary



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