Classic and Contemporary Garden Designs

28Jan, 2018

New Year, New Border!

Welcome back to Gardener’s Corner, with my first article of the new year. I’ve already been very busy in my own garden, cutting out an old, unattractive sea buckthorn hedge. I will then have a sizeable west facing border with which to fill with wonderfully interesting, beautiful and fragrant shrubs. As it is west facing and catches the late afternoon and evening sunshine I plan to have a copse of Cornus sanguinea.

‘Midwinter Fire’ probably accompanied by bronze and purple statuesque grasses (Miscanthus and Carex). Mahonia ‘Charity’ and Elaeagnus x ebbingei will both work well and provide winter fragrance, whilst Sarcococca (also winter scented) and Camellia are ideal in the shade.

Camellia japonica 'Kramer's Supreme'

Pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’, a dark purple will provide amazing year round foliage, possibly in contrast with variegated shrubs such as Pittosporum tenuifolium or Euonymus ‘Silver Queen’.

Whilst the shrubs are getting established I will have fun with a variety of perennials for immediate colour and fragrance, such as Verbena bonariensis, Salvia, Echinacea, Lilies, Dianthus Devon Wizard (highly scented) and many more.

For those of you lucky or clever enough to have apple and pear trees, now is the best time to prune, and certainly before the end of February. Roses and currants (black, white and red) can all be pruned any time now to the end of March. You will need clean and sharp secateurs, loppers and a pruning saw (always advisable to wear correct PPE – gloves, safety specs and overalls). Whist the specifics vary somewhat, as a general rule the aim of pruning all of the above is;

  • to remove dead, diseased and damaged branches,
  • to shorten the growing tips (to 2-3 buds) to concentrate energy into new fruit and
  • to open the plant up to allow light and air in.

For currants and some roses (and many other, often winter flowering, shrubs), it is advisable to cut out ¼ to ⅓ of the oldest central branches to encourage new and vigorous branches to grow, an activity that also increases the longevity of the plant.

There’s not too many other plants that need pruning in January/ February and most perennials can happily be left until spring to be cut back, leaving lots of time for creating new borders, tidying up your sheds and greenhouses and making lots of plans for the coming year!

For any practical assistance or advice feel free to give me a call (07801 252 972) or email

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