Part of the Ericaceae family there are over 4,000 varieties of Heather to choose from, one to suit every garden. They make a welcome addition to any garden bed, border or pot, providing splashes of white, pink and purple colour all year round, while foliage colours vary from bright green, olive green, and golden, with many turning terracotta red in the coldest months.
Heathers are best planted in beds and small evergreen shrubs can be added as complementary companion plants to provide contrast in height and form. Hebe ochracea ‘James Stirling’, a dense, low, spreading evergreen dwarf shrub with bright ochre-coloured leaves and small white flowers, and Rhododendron ‘Praecox’ a small, evergreen shrub with dark, glossy oval leaves and widely funnel-shaped, rosy-purple flowers, look great growing along side. The Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’, a miniature daffodil, will also add a delightful touch with its neat clusters of bright yellow trumpets.
Read all about the garden plant of the month here.
With the dark months creeping in, there is no better time to spruce up your garden with Helleborus. Also known as the Christmas Rose, the Hellebore is a traditional garden favourite, making it the perfect choice for our Plant of the Month for January.
With a colour range of pure white through to deep purple, pink, cream, yellow, and red flowers, Hellebores are guaranteed to light up a damp, shady spot in your garden winter.
Hellebores are evergreen, perennial flowering plants. They are often used for decorative purposes and are popular with gardeners for their early flowering period during winter and spring and are frost resistant, making them ideal for this time of year.
They are excellent for bringing early colour to shady herbaceous borders and areas between deciduous shrubs and under trees.
Helleborus are often very tolerant of dry shade conditions and look fantastic planted in borders with snowdrops, Erythronium, Primula, Pulmonaria and Tiarella.
They are also wildlife friendly and are a valuable source of pollen for early bees.
This month’s Plant of the Month is the trusty Chrysanthemum – a staple of most gardens and yet highly undervalued. There would be few flowers blooming in an October garden were it not for garden mums.
Their clusters of flower heads show over a long period and are available in many colours, including red, orange, yellow, white, and lavender. Garden mums need fertile soil and can take light shade, although they grow best in full sun. Ideal for adding a late season splash of colour to your beds, patios and gardens.
Few gardens rely solely on flowers for year-round interest, they also need a structure of different plant shapes, colours and textures to provide a background and maintain year-round appeal. Conifers are ideal because they are available in so many forms, are hardy, easy to care for and long-living.
In a variety of growth rates and colour give privacy, provide habitats for wildlife, absorb traffic noise and pollution, screen unsightly objects and create a backdrop for the garden (see our leaflet Making Gardens Beneficial to Wildlife for advice on planting a hedge).
Can be provided by fast- or slow-growing prostrate conifers used to edge ponds, paths or borders; cover unsightly areas; and suppress weeds. They can act as a foil for bulbs, flowers and grasses.
Planted in the centre of a lawn, in a corner, in a tub or in a border or rockery can add structural interest to a garden.
Miniature and dwarf conifers suit container planting and will last five years or more in the same pot with a minimum of attention. Just water in summer, give an occasional trim and an annual feed of slow-release fertiliser. Low troughs can be underplanted with miniature bulbs and bedding plants. Plant a single conifer in patio planters to give height or a combination of different shapes, textures and colours for an all-round display. Use prostrate junipers in place of trailing plants.
Can benefit from the graceful, arching foliage of pendulous conifers or upright-growing specimens. Plant with other shrubs, phormiums, heathers or grasses for a long-lasting border.
Conifers are excellent planted beside water as their strong shapes make wonderful reflections. They also hide the edges of pond liners and break up fixed lines of vision.
Conifers can be used with other plants to give year-round interest and colour: dwarf conifers live happily alongside other plants in containers, or by themselves as specimens. Try them with winter bedding and early spring bulbs and flowers, which can then be swapped for summer bedding. Heather’s and hardy cyclamen also make a great combination.
Conifers will tolerate most soils, but avoid planting in areas that waterlog regularly. A very chalky soil will suit Taxus (yew), some junipers and pines. Local climate, such as areas of high or low rainfall, can affect height and spread. To help you choose the right conifer for your garden ask our nursery staff.
June is a lovely month to be in the garden. With the evenings getting longer and brighter and the longest day of the year on the 21st June, the extra light and warmth encourages the garden to put on a burst of growth. One plant that puts on a great show is the rose, making it a fantastic choice for this months plant of the month.
Recent market information conducted by HTA revealed that 49 per cent of British adults with a garden have roses in them. Roses have also seen a revival over the past decade with breeders creating varieties that are easier to care for and more disease resistant.
There is a rose for every garden situation from Hybrid Teas to miniatures, climbers to floribundas. They are a great addition to any garden environment, large or small, contemporary or traditional with varieties for planting in flower beds, borders and planters.
Blue Peter gardener, Chris Collins, thinks no garden is complete without a rose or two.
“I suppose the choice of a rose as my favourite may be considered an obvious one when gardeners talk about plants – but the English garden is incomplete without one or possible many.