THIS MONTH IN THE GARDEN (December 2013/January 2014) with Derek Cox

A number of our readers will not recognize some of the plants that I mention in my column, so, to give you some idea of what they look like we do add one or two photographs. However, we did make a mistake with the images shown in our November issue in that the captions beneath each photograph were wrong. The bottom picture is Thalictrum kiusianum and not Anisodontea ‘Crystal Rose’, which is shown above, and the picture showing an orange trumpet vine is that of Campsis ‘Madam Galen’. This trumpet vine is planted in well drained, but fertile soil at the base of a six feet, 1.8m high South facing fence, where in 15 years it has grown, not only to cover the fence, but has also twined itself almost to the top of an 18 feet, 5.4m tall yellow Irish Yew. ‘Madam Galen’ has large green pinnate leaves, but its main attraction is its large orange-red, trumpet shaped flowers, This climber has one great advantage in that it produces its flowers on the end of its current years growth, so I prune all unwanted growth hard back during March. During the winter this, like the majority of climbing plants will lose its leaves, but there are a few evergreen climbers worth mentioning, especially where they are required to hide unsightly spots in your own garden.

Clematis armandii ‘Snowdrift’ has large, laurel-like evergreen leaves and produces a magnificent show of pure whitLonicera Alseuosmoides cropped2e flowers in the spring, but it is a very strong growing climber, which if left to its own devices will grow over 18 feet, 5.4m in all directions. If the branches of’ Snowdrift’ are pruned as soon as they have finished flowering, you can keep it in check. I also grow the evergreen self-clinging Pileostegia viburnoides against my South facing fence and this has large laurel-like leaves. Heads of small white flowers appear on this slow growing climber between September and early November, but it will not thrive in waterlogged soils. Lonicera alseuosmoides, above, is an uncommon, but very hardy evergreen honeysuckle whose dark green leaves, when young, are a lovely bronze colour. This evergreen honeysuckle produces numerous small, creamy yellow, pink tinted flowers from early June until early November and as it flowers on its new growth it is so easy for me to trim. Hydrangea seemannii is also an evergreen, self-clinging climber with glossy leaves and heads of white flowers in midsummer, but it does require a sheltered site and a well-drained loamy soil, and I must admit that I have never managed to grow it in my garden.

Last April I ordered yet three more varieties of Daffodils from Walkers Bulbs in Spalding, Lincs, and these arrived during September. As I already have around forty varieties of daffodils growing in my garden, I decided to plant ten of each into 12-inch, 30cm ornamental pots. In any pot, or container I always use half-and-half Multipurpose and John Innes No3 compost. Having crocked the bottom of the pot with pieces of broken terra cotta plant pots, I then half fill the pot with compost, then space the bulbs out on the compost before filling the pot to just below the rim. Here I had beHeuchera 'electra'tter point out that when planted in the garden, daffodils need planting between four and six inches, 10/15cm below the soil level. The three daffodils are ‘Golden Bells’, which is a free flowering, form of bulbocodium conspicus, ‘Peeping Tom’, an all yellow, 12 inch, 30cm tall daffodil with reflexed petals and a long, narrow trumpet, also ‘Velocity’, which is different in that although it has yellow petals, the trumpet is a brilliant orange-red. I stood the pots in my cold greenhouse and by early October the leaves of Golden Bells started to appear, now the leaves are three inches, 7.5cm tall and as this is an early spring flowering Daffodil, I wonder, will it be in flower for Christmas?

During the winter, the majority of herbaceous perennials will have died down, but I do have a few, which are evergreen and of these the Heuchera’s not only keep their leaves, but the leaves are very attractive. I now have eleven different Heuchera’s whose foliage varies from yellow to almost purple-black. Of these, Heuchera ‘Electra’, above, is outstanding having bright yellow leaves with coppery-red veins, its flowers are not have outstanding, but makes up for this with its colourful evergreen foliage.

My very best wishes for a happy Christmas and I look forward to writing about my garden in the coming year.