The Sunday Gardener's Blog

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  1. I confess, I am not much of a winter gardener. I try, but when it is so cold, damp and uninviting I find plenty of reasons to think about gardening rather than any actual doing.

    For this reason I prefer Winter colour in my garden to be maintenance free, so I can look at it from the warmth inside.

    Two firm favourites for this time of year are the Mahonia top image and Hamamelis lower image.

    Mahonia is the easiest to grow and this variety flowers bright yellow in December & January, some such as 'Charity' are scented.  If you want to have a shrub border with all round interest and very little maintenance, Mahonia is worth checking out.

    Whilst Mahonia is happy growing just about anywhere, (hence it is a landscaping favourite) Hamamelis the Witch Hazel is more temperamental. I have seen it looking  lovly in other people's gardens; it seems to shimmer in the gloom but no hope of growing it myself.

    Hamamelis needs to be planted in a sheltered spot, away from cold winds and not too wet as they dislike waterlogged soils. Hamamelis need sunny to produce good flowers which come ahead of the leaves. An added bonus is that Hamemelis have good autumn colour and if you can grow it in your garden, best plant it where you can see it's flowers from the comfort of your armchair.


    Mahonia blooms in January
    Hamamelis Witch Hazel


  2. Owl-in-winter-310-x-240

    At this time of year the sound of owls calling and hooting in the sharp winter air is magical. I am always amazed and delighted to hear an Owl. I may often hear them but rarely see them. Tawny Owls are amongst the most common and this is shown in the image, very beautiful.

    Tawny Owls tend to live and stay in the same territory which means the pair which live within audio distance to our house can be heard quite regularly. 

    The RSPB advise that the sound of the Tawny Owl, the familiar  to-wit, kewit followed by to-woo, hooo is in fact two Owls the female first followed by the male response.

    This link to You tube is of Owl audio. The reason there is no video footage of Owls is because it was pitch dark and nothing to be seen, just the sound of Owls hooting alongside a stream.


  3. Bamboo weighed down by snow

    I always used to think that bothering to clear snow of shrubs and bushes was for the pedentic gardener. I found out to my cost the amount of damage snow can do.

    Snow is very heavy, it forces the branches down and this can make them snap. When it is very cold, the snow pushes the branches downwards, and then the snow freezes and this holds the branches in place, placing the shrub under tension and strain.

    It seems hard to imagine,  but the sheer weight of snow snapped the branches of an Elaeagnus, some of them were around 8cms/3" wide and it hardly seems credible that snow could damage such strong branches. The snow gets into the centre of the shrub, forces the branches out and they snap under the strain.


    Bamboo free of snow

    The first image is a bamboo which you can see is completely buried under the snow and it's easy to see if it is left like that for several days how the stems will be damaged. The second image shows the bamboo with the snow cleared off and it is standing upright again.

    Evergreen shrubs are most at risk because of their leaf canopy over winter. So it isn't just work for work's sake, if there is a heavy snow fall and no immediate thaw, especially if it freezes, it is best to clear the snow off shrubs to avoid them becoming damaged.

    Video about snow damage

    More winter gardening tips.

  4. hydrangea macrophylla fading blooms

    Some garden plants are good value because they flower for a long time, and some because they look good as the flowers fade. Hydrangea ticks both boxes as the images on the left show. The fading flowers are very attractive.

    Hydrangea is something of a Marmite shrub; you either love them or hate them. Before coming to a final view it is worth checking out just how many different types there are and how good they look especially in the right setting. Many look good in shady spots and alongside streams. 

    Hydrangea are generally easy to grow and come in many colours with new varieties being bred all the time. They are generally a largish shrub which need space, but many are shade tolerant and there is a great climbing variety called hydrangea petiolaris, which has lovely delicate lacy white flowers in the spring.

    Images of Hydrangea on Pinterest board and growing tips.