Category Archives: evergreens

The garden in January 2024

Happy New Year 2024

Well, what a year 2023 was with it’s very dry spring and roasting summer, to the very wet autumn and winter!  The garden is ever so soggy right now with the amount of rain we have had over the last couple of months.  There is moss everywhere, which I actually like but it is dangerously slippy when it is down the ramp and on the paving slabs.  The mossy stones around the pond however look great, as do the mossy logs dotted around the garden.  It is at this time of year that you can see all the weeds at the back wall so they are easier to remove.  The plants in the pond itself looks a bit bedraggled and need some attention.

moss covered stones around small wild life pond
Moss covered stones

I haven’t been in the garden much at all during November and December and I miss pottering around checking on the progress of the plants.  I didn’t find much in the way of fungi this year – was I just not out at the right time?  I hate the cold and damp as it really gets into my bones and I just feel miserable spending all my time trying in vain to stay warm.  Now that we have started a new year my hopes are up for a splendid spring.  Even though we still have a couple of cold months to go I feel optimistic when I see all the spring bulbs beginning to grow.  Some of the snowdrops are already in bud and the earlier narcissi have poked their shoots up.

snowdrops in bud
Snowdrop buds

There are a few flowers to be seen at this time of year: some on the witch-hazel (Hamamelis inter Diane), a few sporadic flowers on the Hebe pink paradise, a few tatty flowers on the Viburnum X Bodnantense Dawn  in the raised bed.  Some of the evergreen shrubs have flower buds waiting for their chance such as the Osmanthus burkwoodii and the Erica arborea ‘Estrella gold’.  I do like having the evergreen structure in the garden to look at during the bleak winter months and a few of the ferns have quite a bright, yellowy- green colour which brightens the place up.

sporadic flowers on hebe pink paradise in january
Hebe pink paradise flowers in January
Erica arborea buds
Eric arborea buds
evergreen seelction of plants
Evergreen dark, bright, and purple.

I did spot one job that we will have to get to grips with as soon as the weather gets better and that is the harling on the right hand front corner of the patio.  When the rain gets in behind it and that water then freezes, the harling cracks and gets pushed off.

Broken harling on patio wall
Broken harling on the patio wall.
The garden in January 2024
The garden in January 2024.

From a rather cold and damp Edinburgh garden: Happy New Year!

The importance of evergreens in the winter garden.

I hate seeing just a load of brown in the garden at this time of year, it is so dismal when the quality of light isn’t great either. Now that the perennials are closing down for the winter there are a lot of bare patches in the garden so it is nice to have some ‘greenery’ that lasts all year round.  (For the sake of argument I am using the term ‘evergreen’ to describe a plant that is not deciduous ie. it keeps it’s leaves on throughout the year.  They may not necessarily be green.)  Not only do evergreens provide a focal point, when you scan the garden your eyes jump form one focal point to the next rather than to the bare earth, but they also help to form structure in the garden.  They are good for the wildlife, not only by providing some protection from the harsh winter weather, but also protection from predators.  Often people think of evergreens as being just shrubs, but there are plenty plants that are classed as evergreen that are not shrubs.  They all give the garden some much needed colour during the dull, grey, winter days.  In my garden the winter colour of the evergreens comes from a variety of plants: a few different types of ivies adorning the ugly walls, golden grasses, gold and green holy, berberis, purple huecheras, carpets of dark green cyclamen foliage, periwinkle, epimedium foliage, mahonia, privet hedge, mosses, ferns, hellebores, osmanthus, rhododendron, pieris, chiastophylum, saxifrages, hebe, tree heath, heather, some succulents, and rosemary to name a few.  Don’t forget the lawn!  Many gardens now have lots of decking and slabbing and can look very drab and dead, but even just a small lawn can add a touch of evergreen life.
There are some plants which are classed as semi-evergreen, which means they may hold onto their leaves in mild winters but shed them if the weather gets too cold.   And just to confuse things there are some plants that hold onto their dead leaves during winter but shed them once the new growth starts such as beech trees.  As far as I know beech is not classed as evergreen because the leaves they hold onto are dead.

evergreens, ferns,
Ferns, epimedium, chiastophylum, purple heuchera, and ivy.
evergreens, ferns,
Ferns, moss, grasses, hellebore, osmanthus, ivy, and periwinkle
Of course colour in winter can also come from non evergreen plants too.  There are pink flowers on the bare branches of viburnum right now, as are the fiery orange flowers of the witch hazel. There are sporadic pink flowers on the hebe, some of the hellebores are about to flower, and the corkscrew hazel catkins are forming, The bark of my neighbour’s silver birch is very bright and silvery, as are the papery white honesty seed heads. The spring bulbs are just popping through – the snowdrops will be the first to flower in my garden.  One plant that has amazed me though by still being in flower in January is the lychnis ‘white robin’.  I have 3 little pots of it on my patio table waiting for me to plant them and they look superb just now.
Lychnis, flos – cuculi alba white robin.