Evergreens & inspiration for 2019 Gardening with Michael Pell

Michael Pell
Michael Pell

As you know, we are keen supporters of and participants in the National Garden Scheme and open the garden at Lewis Cottage for 10 days each year raising funds for various nursing and health charities.

In addition to this the garden is also open by appointment for private group bookings. This past year, apart from the Garden Clubs and Art groups we’ve welcomed to Lewis Cottage, we’ve been delighted by the increase in the number of families and young visitors and it made me muse a little on the simple delight every generation enjoys by spending time together in a garden.

For some months now my gardening week has been punctuated by my granddaughter’s weekly visit each Friday to help me garden at Lewis Cottage. Anyone who has grandchildren will
understand that it’s a visit I look forward to greatly and whilst Jo is a keen gardener, it’s the general chit chat that I love most and it got me thinking how, in these fast changing and unpredictable times, gardening, with its slower pace and somewhat more predictable circle of life, affords us time across the generations, to reflect and connect, perhaps even reconnect, with ourselves and the natural world.

The first thing Jo and I do is take a walk around the garden to decide which jobs we are going to tackle, but it also allows me to see the garden through a different pair of eyes, for Jo will often point out a plant that I’ve perhaps ignored or a vista that I’ve have failed to appreciate and that in itself will open up all sorts of new planting possibilities. At this time of year of course, there are fewer plants in flower but you’d be surprised as to how many there are if you really look.

Some of our favourites at the moment are Viburnum bodnatense “Dawn”, Lonicera fragrantissima and Hammamellis “Diana”, The coloured stems of Cornus “Baton Rouge”, bare twigs and silhouettes of Betula jacquemontii and Prunus serrula also play their part in the winter garden, but right now, it is the evergreen shrubs that hold centre stage and really come into their own as the last remaining leaves of deciduous plants fall to earth.

These will sustain interest in the garden right through to the Spring when the bulbs start to poke through and none does it better than one of my favourites – Euphorbia stygiana.

Architectural, robust and vigorous, with its lower leaves turning red in Winter it has the added bonus, in Summer, of delicious honey scented flowers. It truly is a garden-worthy plant if you can find it.

Next month, I’m handing over the column to Richard who will be reporting from the Caribbean on what gardeners are doing there, but until then at this special time of year do try to spend a few minutes in the garden or take a walk along a country lane – you really will be surprised how much is going on even in the depths of Winter.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

More information on how to book a private group visit and next year’s NGS weekends can be found at http://lewiscottageplants.co.uk

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