Guest blogger Jane Scorer has gardened the same half acre plot for over 30 years and has opened her garden for the NGS (Yellow Book) scheme. She has an RHS qualification, but feels that her main qualification is the years she has spent with her hands in the soil.
Variegation across the nation…
So, the dahlias are a fading memory and the Delphiniums are just blackened stalks and sadly, another fantastic growing season has fizzled out like a rainy Bonfire Night. But, surely there must be some reasons left to be cheerful! When all around is in tones of Sepia, there must be something in the garden to lift the gloom and lift our spirits.
There are still a few flowers blooming in the garden, but they are the last, lone remnants of the warm summer days. A rose here, a Michaelmas Daisy there, just welcome pools of colour amongst the falling leaves. Soon they will all have finished.
The berries are very plentiful this year and bunches of vivid lipstick colours dangle from the trees, but they are too transient and will be all too quickly gobbled down by hungry birds. I can’t rely on them to be there all winter, until the Spring bulbs begin to appear.
So … it HAS to be foliage which saves the dreary day, and brings some interest to those winter days. Not any old foliage, but lovely crisp variegated foliage in shades of greens, greys, yellows, creams and silver. I took a trip around my local nursery and found lots of lovely new variegated plants to buy.
When I buy a new plant it has to earn its place in the garden, and it has to offer me as much as possible … flowers, a long season of interest, interesting foliage, perfume and so on. The new variegated plants I have seen tick lots of boxes anyway, and the variegation adds another important element.
I bought a variegated Honeysuckle, ‘Harlequin’, for just £1 in the Bargain Corner. Now, Honeysuckle ticks so many boxes for me, beautiful flowers, strong scent, often evergreen, hardy and healthy. To add variegation to that list makes it a very special plant indeed. That means that even when not in flower,there is interest in the foliage. I would have thought that these little crackers would have flown off the shelves, but the owner of the nursery told me that people were just not interested… even discounted to £1. I cannot imagine why not!
Hydrangeas also have a variegated form, ‘Hydrangea Tricolour’ and again that is an additional element for an already attractive plant. The top leaves in the photo show how the variegation develops, with shades of green in irregular patches, contrasting with the crisp cream edging. It must look spectacular when it is also in flower.
There are few lovelier sights in late Spring than that waterfall of blue created by the flowers of the Ceonothus. That interest can be extended for a much longer season through the use of variegated plants, like Ceonothus ‘Silver Surprise’.
Some variegated plants, it has to be said, may not have the same vigour or hardiness of their plainer cousins. I will be interested to compare the performance of the new variegated varieties in the garden.
An old favourite of mine is Euonymus ‘Emerald n Gold’… tough, hardy, evergreen and reliable. Easy to propagate through cuttings, and great for filling any awkward little spots. The variegation is a bright sunny yellow, which makes you think of sunshine even when the skies are low and grey.
So, even though it is gloomy old November, there are still some reasons to be cheerful
You can read more of Jane’s blog posts at Hoe hoe grow.