This Month in a Garden – December 2019, January 2020 with Derek Cox

This article is not about the interesting plants in my garden, but about a memory garden which I designed on behalf of my friend Trevor Hodson who is also a member of the Syston in Bloom Committee.
Trevor and his wife Liz lost their daughter Emma and her husband Graham Jenkins when their car was in an accident on the A46 near Wanlip.
Emma was not only a Syston resident, but also head of year at Fulhurst community college at Braunstone and was liked by all who met her. Trevor and myself went along to the college and after meeting the estate manager Tom Sharman selected an area in which a memorial garden could be sited. I then designed a plan for the garden using mainly Emma’s favourite blue coloured flowering shrubs and perennials.
We then went along to Oasis nursery on Brooksby Road Hoby to purchase the plants. Trevor also ordered a seven feet (2.1m) tall obelisk to set in the centre of the garden on which a blue Wisteria could be planted on the sunny side and blue Clematis on the shady side. At the side of the garden was a path where a garden seat was sited on which three people could sit and a plaque commemorating Emma was then fixed by Trevor to this. Blue violets were planted either side of the seat to give both colour and fragrance.
Of the blue flowering shrubs there were Ceanothus thyrsiflorus repans that forms a broad, low, evergreen shrub with blue flowers in May. Two groups of evergreen Hebe’s which would flower in early summer and Lavendula ‘Munstead’ whose fragrant grey foliage and lavender-blue flowers would put on a display of colour throughout the summer. To give contrast Salvia officinalis ‘Black Scallop’ has almost purple-black foliage and spikes of purple-blue flowers. This incidentally is an ornamental form of our native sage.
I did add three other shrubs to give the garden form and substance. These were the evergreen Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’ whose brilliant golden foliage is a must to lighten a winter garden and this has white, orange blossom fragrant flowers in May.
Two groups of Euonymus fortunei ‘Blondy’ would also spread their foliage to give golden ground cover. I also took along five small plants of Sarcoccoca hookeriana ‘Purple Stem’ which is a brilliant small shrub with purple young stems and masses of small white, very fragrant flowers during February/March.
A number of perennials were planted in areas amongst the shrubs to add colour throughout the season. These included Geranium ‘Rozanne’ a low growing plant which flowers from late May until October. Echinops ‘Blue Globe’ has large globular heads of blue flowers on two feet (60cm) stems and Iris papilon ‘Blue Mist’ produces its attractive blue flowers during May.
We had 14 volunteers, family and friends who turned up to complete the garden and these came just as Oasis delivered the plants and the compost in which to plant them. There were eight ladies amongst the volunteers and typical of ladies, they got stuck in and even provided sandwiches, cakes, biscuit’s, tea and coffee. We were grateful that Josh, our American member of the Syston in Bloom Committee turned up to use his muscle to swing a pickaxe and dig out larger existing overgrown plants.
As I have, in the past carried out quite a lot of landscaping I must admit that I was very impressed with the end result as the garden looks fabulous.
My very best wishes to all concerned and may I now also wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy and hopefully prosperous new year.