There are sweeter smelling plants but the seed heads of Iris foetidissima are a striking orange at the end of the season when there is less colour in the garden. Before opening the seed heads swell to a bulbous green head that cracks open to reveal masses of red, orange or yellow berries that the birds seem to leave alone of long periods well into winter.
The sword like leaves are very tough and this iris can thrive on neglect. Eventually clumps need chopping down as the centre becomes congested. Dead leaves need tidying but are evergreen.
Skimmia is a slow growing, aromatic, evergreen shrub with a compact habit. Skimmia Japonica grows in a dome shape with leathery leaves and the flowers can be followed by red or black berries. Skimmia laureola has dark green leaves which smell when crushed. The flowers on this variety are clustered on the end of the shoots.
How and Where Can I Grow Skimmias?
They are tolerant of shade and seaside conditions though some cultivars do not like an alkaline soil.
The flowerbuds look like pink flowers (above) and slowly develop during late autumn before finally opening to reveal the small white flowers in late winter.
Most Skimmias are single sex plants therefore, if you want berries (below), you will have to grow both male and female plants.
Skimmias are slow growing and should not need pruning
Plants are hardy and would fit in too a low maintenance area
This Fastia was grown indoors as a houseplant then planted in the garden where it thrives to the point where it is now flowering at the end of summer.
It is several years old, 4 feet tall & wide and is very happy in a shaded north facing position.
When you have finished with some old house plants you can try to give them a new life outdoors. If they fail you have lost nothing. I have several former foliage house plants in a low maintenance area of the garden where I let plants get on with it for themselves.
The evergreen finger shaped leaves are larger than a hand and create a sculptural plant. I haven’t studied the flowers before but they are neat and simple spheres.
Sorry this photograph has a blue cast from a near by wall.
This alpine species are hardy, colourful and trouble-free. Growing in rock crevices or alpine meadows Helianthemum have been given a common name of Rock Rose but they will grow in many garden situations.
They are part of the Cistacea family which contains over 100 species see Growing Cistus.
Plants from seeds can produce some very interesting forms due to cross pollination but germination rates tend to be low .
The majority of Helianthemum’s are propagated from cuttings as this is the quickest, easiest and method.
In summer take your 2-3″ cutting from young growth just below a leaf for optimum rooting.
Cuttings may take 6 months before being ready to pot on or plant out
Prune straight after flowering to keep in shape and possibly get a second flush of flowers.
Helianthemum normal growing conditions are on chalk land so add a small amount of lime to the soil mixture.
Water young potted plants regularly in dry weather for optimal growth.
Rock roses are neat little plants with upright foliage and are easy to grow on banks, rockeries, the edge of borders and containers.
Selection from 200 Cultivars of Helianthemum nummularium
Create a tiered effect in your border by using shrubs of different heights.
Plant low growing types at the base and later flowering ground cover.
Select flowering shrubs who’s colour will lead the eye from one plant to the next.
Only bother to prune to take out dead wood or if the shrubs become unruly or too high.
Grow flowering shrubs to make a partially shaded plot for delicate flowers.
Plant larger trees or shrubs off-center to avoid a too formal appearance.
Plant selection for an Acid Soil Border
Camellia japonica can be planted at the back as it will grow 6-12 feet tall but only spread 3-5 feet. Red, white and pink are the most common colours to buy and the thick leathery leaves are evergreen.
Azalea Knap Hill hybrids or Mollis are very floriferous decidious plants that flower in spring before the leaves grow. Mine are now 4 feet tall after 5 years. Depending on the size of you border I would use 3, 5 or 7 of these great plants in various colours.
Callicarpa bodinieri produces stunning purple berries in Autumn 3-6 feet tall and wide.
At the front you may need some shade loving plants like Epimedium with copper tinted leaves. Trillium sessile has ivy like leaves and white, red or brown springtime flowers.
For shape it may be appropriate to add some Box (Boxus Sempervirens) near the front. 12-36″ tall.
The scheme above is strongly spring flowering and Mahonia x media ‘ Charity’ or Pieris japonica could also be incorporated into the planting.
For summer interest you may substitute or add Escallonia ‘Apple Blossom’, Hydrangea macrophylla or a hardy Fuchsia magellancia.
Ceanothus ‘Autumn Blue’ will fit in a sunny spot and a variegated Ilex aquifolium at up to 12 feet adds berry interest late in the year.
For general all year round cover the Elaegnus pungens Maculata has good colour in the leaves, Euonymus can grow to 10 feet and Skimmia has cream flowers in spring followed by red berries.
I was always taught ‘not to eat yellow snow’ but the yellow in our snowy garden caught my attention. This Witch Hazel was positively glowing and offered a bright spark on an otherwise dull day. The tree has seldom been pruned and is now over 10 feet tall with a very lax and open habit. This means I can see large quantities of blossom on the branches in January and get the scent on a still day.