Get evergreen ready for spring

Phyl Boyce

Reporter:

Phyl Boyce

Get evergreen ready for spring

You may not feel like venturing outdoors in this cold weather but you can start planning your garden for the new year, from the comfort of your home, by writing off for seed catalogues and ordering your seeds in time for sowing next month.

Correa (Australian fuchsia) is a plant in full flower at present. The plant is an evergreen shrub or small tree which can be grown as a climber and in our garden grows on a north facing wall which is sheltered from north and east winds. It produces tubular bell shaped flowers in small clusters, the flowers are not as big as our fuchsia. The plant is frost tender so in frost prone areas it can be grown in a cool greenhouse. The plant likes a fertile, moist but well drained, neutral to acid soil in full sun. Planting can be done in spring. Correa produces flowers in a range of colours like white, pink, yellow and red. Correa pulchella can grow up to five feet tall producing pink to white flowers. Correa Dusky Bellsi grows about three feet tall with small clusters of red flowers.

Evergreen plants

Evergreens are the backbone of the all year round garden. They come in a wide range of colours in addition to green, such as bronze, yellow, gold and variegated foliage. Most evergreen plants have a waxy or glossy leaf that reflects the sun and will brighten up the garden during the dark days of winter. Most evergreen plants can be clipped to restrict their size or trained into topiary to give structure to your garden. The following are some evergreens worth growing in your garden.

The Ilex (Holly) is one of our most beautiful native plants with waxy, variable shaped leaves. The flowers are insignificant and are followed by bright red berries on the female plants in winter. A male plant must be present in the garden or nearby to produce berries. It will grow in moist, well drained soil. The variegated hollies need full sun to produce the best leaf colour. Planting or transplanting is best done in late winter or early spring. Free standing specimens can be pruned to shape, start the pruning in the early years after planting.

Hollies make excellent hedges or windbreaks and should be trimmed in late spring. Ilex ‘Golden King’ is a compact female shrub with leaves that are mottled green in the centre with broad bright golden margins, it produces red berries. Ilex ‘Silver Queen’ is a slow growing male plant with broad creamy white margins on the leaves. Ilex ferox (Hedgehog holly) is a large male shrub, the leaves are covered with a large number of spines.

Aucuba japonica (spotted laurel) is a dense evergreen bushy shrub grown for its foliage and red berries. It survives well in all conditions from full sun to full shade. Choisya (Mexican orange) is an evergreen rounded shrub grown for its attractive foliage that is aromatic when crushed.

It produces star shaped white flowers in summer. Choisya ‘Sundance’ has bright yellow leaves which needs to be planted in semi-shade. Choisya is an ideal plant for flower arrangers. Other evergreen plants suitable for the garden are Griselinia ‘Bantry Bay’, Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’ (Irish yew) which is available in green or golden coloured foliage, astelia ‘Silver Spear’ and phormiums.

Jobs for the week

This is the time of the year to move shrubs and small trees that are growing in the wrong place. Every gardener, whether novice or experienced, has plants growing in the wrong place for a number of reasons, they may be a clash of colour, plant may have grown too large for its present position or plant may not be growing well. We moved a Japanese maple three times before we found a place where it thrived.

This is the ideal time to move deciduous plants, herbaceous plants, conifers should be left for another month before moving. Try to lift established plants with as large a root-ball as possible. Prepare the soil in the new planting hole well by digging in plenty of compost or well rotted manure. Firm the soil around the transplanted shrub and provide a support if required. Water in well and mulch with bark or compost.