RECENTLY, I discussed deciduous shrubs for a spring display. This week, are suggestions of evergreen shrubs for late winter/early spring flowers.
While I have mentioned some of these plants individually in the past, I thought they could provide a special feature as a group in a specific area of the garden, as they all prefer similar soils and growing conditions.
OSMANTHUS “Heaven Sent” bred in the 1980s by veteran plant hunter Bob Cherry, of Paradise Plants. This was introduced by Cherry from one of his trips to remote areas of China.
It is described as: “A compact, dense shrub, versatile as a hedge, on its own or grown in a large container.
“The deep green leaves form a perfect backdrop to white tubular flowers borne in clusters all along the branches. Flowering from late-winter into spring with an amazing perfume.”
These can be kept small, say to one metre with pruning after flowering, as I do in our garden, or allowed to grow to 1.5-2m as a hedge.
ANOTHER of Cherry’s introductions is Michelia yunnanensis “Paradise Perfection”, a superb new form of M. yunnanensis developed by Cherry who describes it as having “all the elegance and perfume of the common form of Michelia with the added bonus of more flowers on its compact form and dense foliage. Hundreds of small, brown, velvet buds extend along the branches opening to pure-white flowers with yellow stamens in late winter into spring”.
Eventual height if left unpruned will be 2-3m, although I encourage pruning after flowering to keep its shape and promote more flowers.
Still one of the most popular Michelia is Michelia figo or Port Wine magnolia, of which I featured last November. This one has been popular since its introduction to the west in 1798.
A PLANT not often grown in this area, nor often offered for sale at local garden centres, is Kalmia latifolia or Mountain Laurel.
Seeing it at the Heritage Nursery, Yarralumla, reminded me how much I love this stunning shrub. It was included in the courtyard garden I designed at the National Film and Sound Archives in 1990 and is still growing well. It was introduced into gardens from eastern North America back in 1734. The clusters of bright pink saucer-shaped flowers give the appearance of icing sugar when in flower.
PIERIS is commonly known as the Pearl Bush due to the long strings of white or pink flowers, depending on the variety, resembling literally a string of pearls.
It can look absolutely stunning in spring when in flower at the same time as the rich, red colour of the newly emerging leaves. It can also be seen growing in the NFSA courtyard garden.
I recommend P. “Christmas Cheer” (so named as in other places it flowers at Christmas) which grows to 1-2m and P. “Temple Bells” of a similar size.
FINALLY, every garden should have a group of the new Daphne “Eternal Fragrance”.
It is new to Australia, having been bred by the renowned Daphne breeder Robin White in England.
This is a hardy cross between Daphne napolitana and D.collina, both found growing in the Naples area of southern Italy. Unlike the Chinese Daphne odora, it flowers several times a year and is a compact form with an amazing fragrance.
For advice on growing these plants, refer to my Cedfacts Garden Information Sheet “Acid Loving Plants” at www.cedricbryant.com
• PLANT garlic without delay. Do not try planting the Chinese imported garlic sold in supermarkets, but that from your local garden centre.
• LIFE Dahlia tubers and divide, place in dry sawdust and store in a dry, dark place. If they are named varieties when dry, write on the tuber in black Texta to remind you when planting out.
• SPRAY fruit trees once the leaves have fallen with Bordeaux or Kocide for brown rot.
• REMOVE thick cover of fallen leaves from small delicate plants to prevent smothering.
• TAKE hardwood cuttings of deciduous climbers ie. wisteria and ornamental grape.
Win a bundle of books
Cedric’s got a bundle of five books to give away to one lucky winner. They include three books he reviewed last week – ”Fruit Trees in Small Spaces”, “Pest-repellent Plant”, “Beautiful No-Mow Yards” – plus “Small-space Cointainer Gardens” and “Rover Cottage Handbook – Herbs”.
On the back of an envelope, write a single word that describes how you feel about winter. Include you name and a contact phone number or email address and send it to “Cedric’s Bundle of Books”, “CityNews”, GPO Box 2448, Civic 2600. Competition closes at midday on Monday, June 25 and the winner announced on the garden page in the edition of June 28.