December Plant of the Month – English Holly

English Holly – Ilex aquifolium

Holly bush with berries

When thoughts turn to Christmas it’s hard not to think about Holly – especially as if you happen to be doing any shopping at this time of year you’ll probably be seeing it everywhere!


Anybody growing a holly tree will tell you the joy they’ve had raiding the branches for creating homemade wreaths and garlands, a great activity for keeping kids occupied in the exciting run up to Christmas! Holly sprigs are also marvellous when added to a winter bouquet and can be painted or sprayed silver for a truly dazzling display.

In general our most common holly is the Ilex aquifolium also known as the English Holly, a glossy green prickly leafed shrub with bright red berries to brighten up a winter garden.



Hollies tend to be shapely, architectural plants that will happily hold there own as a stand-alone feature. In the garden evergreen hollies are an excellent choice. The iconic prickly leaves will give all year round pleasure with vivid new growth in spring and summer and in winter the female plants will be laden with berries. Holly bushes are dioecious, meaning they need male and female plants to pollinate, and without pollination you won’t get any berries. In general you only need to have one male plant nearby and it will pollinate multiple females.




Tips for the wildlife friendly gardener.

The female plants produce flowers that will later turn in to berries in winter – great for birds.

The male plants produce flowers that make pollen – great for birds and butterflies! Despite their very subtle scent you will notice lots of honey bees and other pollinating insects hovering around your holly bushes in the spring.

Holly hedges make excellent homes for birds and wildlife, the prickly leaves excellent for winter protection.




Plant out in full sun, or partial shade and they prefer well drained, sandy soil but will cope with most soils as long as there is good drainage. Give them a good mulching. Hollies don’t like to be disturbed and are slow growers, sometimes not really showing any progress for 2-3 years however a mature shrub is well worth the wait!

You shouldn’t need to prune hollies too much as they will form a good shape by themselves however if you do need to do a little light pruning to remove damaged, diseased wood do it in late winter or early spring. Mulch and feed after pruning.

Click HERE to view our full Ilex range!

Winter Favourites


When autumn leaves are falling, there’s a chill in the air. Gardeners across the country are frantically trying to get the last of that years plants in the ground. Right before a frost settles in you know that winter is well on its way!

With some careful planning there is no reason for the cold winter months to mean the drab winter months in your garden!

Our favourite Winter Shrubs

This is a rundown of our favourite winter flowering shrubs guaranteed to breathe some life and colour back into a winter garden.


Very hardy, deciduous shrubs which produce dense clusters of richly perfumed flowers, often followed by berries. There are a dizzying array of viburnum varieties, with huge variations in leaf shape and forms of flower heads. Some are evergreen and some deciduous, some flower in winter. Others late in spring! The variety and versatility make them invaluable for gardeners seeking all year round interest. Viburnums are our 2016 November Plant of the month – you can find that article HERE.

Our Top choice Viburnum | Viburnum x bodnantense Dawn


A very hardy, deciduous shrub which produces dense clusters of richly perfumed, deep rose pink flowers which eventually fade to candyfloss pink. They eventually white by late spring. In summer, attractive round purple berries are produced. Foliage is huge, ovate and toothed, with deeply scored veins. It has an almost quilted look. It boasts a particularly long season of interest, one of the many reasons it was awarded the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit.


Fairly compact evergreen shrub that flowers from spring into early summer. Known for being hardy they are equally happy in a border or in containers on a patio. With a compact habit they are fairly low maintenance, perfect for growing in borders or containers on a patio.

Sarcococca (Christmas Box)


Amazingly easy to grow, dense and reliable evergreen. It has slender, tapering shiny leaves and produces sweetly fragranced flowers from December to February. After flowering, Christmas Box produces an abundance of attractive berries. Excellent in partial shade, even in drier soils.

Ilex (Holly)

Evergreen Hollies (or Ilex) will give all year round pleasure from the vivid new growth in spring and early summer to the berries in winter. When birds can’t find anything else to eat they will flock to the holly bush. Stems of holly are ideal for winter floral arrangements, and look particularly dazzling when painted silver or white. English Holly (Ilex aquifolium) is our December Plant of the Month.

Edgeworthia chrysantha

Edgeworthia chrysantha

This winter flowering gem was named after Michael Pakenham Edgeworth. It was collected it in the Himalayas and brought it back to Britain in the mid-1800s. Cinnamon coloured branches provide a stunning contrast to the clusters of fragrant, tubular yellow flowers. A great plant for the winter garden, they rarely succumb to pests and diseases, but will need a sheltered spot.

Chinese Witch Hazel

Exotic Chinese witch hazel (also known as Hamamelis) are deciduous, winter flowering shrubs that produce clusters of sweetly scented. Crinkled flowers in a range of fiery shades, bursting into life like mini firework displays from December to March.

Corylus avellana Contorta (Corkscrew Hazel)


A real conversation piece. This unusual and resilient deciduous shrub has the most amazing twisted stems and branches earning it the common name corkscrew hazel. In summer the branches bear a tangle of broadly ovate green leaves followed later by nuts. In late winter and early spring a mass of weeping yellow catkins unfurl. This curious variety has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. A great architectural plant and an ideal choice for creating a wildlife garden attracting moths, butterflies and a variety of insects as well as birds and squirrels. A slow growing shrub, it will reach around 1.8-2m after ten years.

Chimonanthus praecox

Chimonanthus praecox - Wintersweet

These are a truly striking sight, producing unusual pendant yellow flowers on leafless branches in winter. The flowers have a strong spicy fragrance, and last from November until February. It will grow into a good sized rounded shrub, or can it can be trained to grow against a trellis or wall. Introduced from China it is also known as ‘wintersweet’ or ‘Japanese Allspice’. They are hardy and noted for being able to survive a frost. Although will appreciated a sunny, sheltered spot in the garden where they will make the most of the summer heat, ripening in winter where, after a good summer they will produce abundant flowers. These are a real winter beauty, and will not carry the same impact when it has lost its flowers. So it is worth considering their position carefully where space is at a premium – although its brilliant fragrance and particular beauty in the winter make it well worth growing.

Dogwood (Cornus)

Spectacular bushy shrubs, ideal for creating a showy feature in the garden, they bring a burst of colour that is particularly valuable in a drab winter garden. The shoots can also be used as part of an imaginative indoor cut-flower display, perhaps even spraying them gold and silver for a festive look. We’d recommend planting in groups of three for a truly fantastic show in winter once all the other colour is gone.

Our top Cornus Choice: Cornus Midwinter Fire


Cornus Midwinter Fire (commonly known as dogwood) is a shrub which produces ovate, mid-green leaves and small, cream/white flowers in May and June. However, the flowers are not the star of this show. In autumn, Cornus Midwinter Fire stays true to it s namesake, slowly revealing brilliant flame-coloured stems as the leaves fall away. Shoots begin a yellow-orange, with the tips turning a brilliant red as the season goes on, giving the shrub a flaming look.

Lonicera purpusii Winter Beauty


Also known as the winter flowering honeysuckle. Masses of creamy-white, fragrant flowers are produced in midwinter. This plant flowers reliably by Christmas year after year, flowers lasting until early spring. Sprigs can be used for scented winter flower arrangements. We’d recommend planting Winter Beauty as a standalone specimen in the border, but it can also be trained up a wall or fence.


Fabulous evergreen shrubs producing large leaves, autumn flowers followed by colourful berries all throughout the winter months. With their compact habits they will work well in a mixed border, ideal for partnering with over evergreen shrubs such as Buxus, Camellia or a Photinia Red Robin.

Our Top Mahonia Choice | Charity Cabaret

The Mahonia Nitens Cabaret also known as Oregon Grape, is an amazing new introduction to the Mahonia range. It will produce the usual glossy holly like evergreen leaves you would expect from a Mahonia. It is a compact variety and produces its flowers from the end of summer and right through the autumn, with stunning oranges and reds. After the flowers have bloomed, blue berries will form, these work wonderfully with the winter foliage.


This marvellous fragrant shrub will flower throughout the summer and into the winter months. It presents gorgeous dainty star shaped flowers, usually pure white, pale buttery yellow or very rarely deep pink. A stunning adornment for any trellis, fence or wall, the pretty flowers bring a distinctive sweet scent. It will do well in most soils, can be pruned in early spring to keep to a tidy shape and keep it nice and healthy for repeated stunning displays year after year.

Our Top Choice | Trachelospermum jasminoides (Jasmine)

Trachelospermum jasminoides. Star Jasmin

A highly fragrant, vigorous climber that produces clusters of beautiful, star shaped pure white flowers from June throughout the summer months, which turn to cream with age. It has dark green leaves which turn bronze in winter. It is best to grow Trachelospermum jasminoides against a warm, sunny wall. Can climb to 8m, however prune after flowering to size required. This Jasmine is a stunning addition, for a wonderful display throughout the summer months perfuming the air with its sweet fragrance.

Callicarpia profusion


Also known as ‘Beauty berry’, it is a beautiful eye-catching medium sized deciduous shrub which produces masses of tiny star shaped lilac flowers in summer. When pollinated, these start to form the outstanding clusters of vibrant purple, almost metallic berries we see in autumn and winter. Not only do these berries bring a welcome splash of colour at a time when there is very little, they also provide a valuable source of food for birds during the colder months which they will thank you for. It is not just the berries that are showy- young leaves begin a bronzy purple colour, maturing to deep green in summer and fading to lime green, then eventually plum purple in autumn. We’d recommend planting in groups of three.

November Plant of the Month – Viburnum


Winter Viburnum x bodnatense

Getting colour into your gardens in winter is always a concern, and when achieved – a real treat! Viburnums are easy to grow, and deliver on not just colour but also bring a heavenly fragrance to a garden when our spring and summer favourites have faded away. Most varieties produce red, blue or white berries in autumn, great for birds and wildlife (those berries are often poisonous to humans).

There are a dizzying array of viburnum varieties, with huge variations in leaf shape and forms of flower heads, some are evergreen and some deciduous, some flower in winter – others late in spring! The variety and versatility make them invaluable for gardeners seeking all year round interest.

You can find our extensive range of late autumn and winter flowering shrubs HERE and evergreen shrubs HERE.

Winter Flowering Viburnum


Bod dawn.


C lamont

POTM AGM october


POTM November Viburnum

Hardy and robust, they are easy to grow and will flower best in a sunny spot, but can tolerate shade. They prefer well cultivated soil containing ample humus or will grow in chalky soils, they don’t like being waterlogged. As with all plants given a bit of attention in the beginning they will flourish so start them off with some leaf mould and lots of room to develop.

Cut back old and damaged branches after flowering (deciduous types) or in May (evergreen types).

Possible pests problems:

  • Viburnum beetle – causes defoliation in spring and summer – pale yellow larvae attack the leaves in spring, with the beetles attaching in summer. Although the viburnum will look tatty it will usually survive an attack. If you want to treat with chemicals the best time is early spring when the larvae first appear (mid-April-May). Never spray when in flower.


  • Viburnum whitefly – much rarer, these tiny white flies live in the underside of the leaves and cause mould to appear on the upper side of the leaves. These would need a chemical spray to treat in mid-summer when the flies appear, again don’t spray them when in flower.


  • Aphids – also called blackfly. You’ll probably already be familiar with these as they are pretty common and most plants are susceptible to them. They can cause stunted growth, curled leaves and mould. You can use chemical controls. For natural solutions encourage more useful insects to your garden like ladybirds and lacewings that will prey on the Aphids. Lots of plants are well known for deterring Aphids such as marigolds, onions and garlic and the herbs coriander, mint, dill and oregano.

Spring flowering Viburnum

We have a range of spring flowering viburnum that will produce the beautiful fragrant flowers – these are well worth considering in your winter garden schemes for the amazing colour changes to their leaves in the autumn, and autumn and winter berries.

Viburnum carlesii_0002128
Carlesii – summer red berries ripen to black in autumn


Viburnum opulus Roseum
Viburnum opulus Roseum (commonly called Guilder Rose or Snowball Bush) stunning ornamental shrub that is particularly hardy.


Viburnum plic. Kilimandjaro 025
Viburnum Kilimanjaro – pure white flowers grow in layers on tiered branches, resembling a snow covered mountain. In autumn, the foliage turns shades of burnt orange and gold, and in winter the berries will provide a valuable source of food for winter birds.


Viburnum 'Mohawk'
Viburnum ‘Mohawk’ – evergreen. Compact and rounded in habit, this variety is best appreciated when planted near paths and patios where its delicate aroma can be fully enjoyed, though it also makes an attractive addition to cut flower displays.

The results are in!

2016 Environmentally Friendly and Wildlife competition results!


Email shot banner _ ECO! - results



We have been really impressed by the huge variety of ideas to help local wildlife and fantastic environmentally friendly ideas, tips and projects submitted to our competition over the last few months – in fact we had so many great entries that we have decided to issue an extra 10 special runner up prizes along with our six winning entrants.


We’ll be sharing as many of your ideas as we can here over the next few weeks, but today we have the huge pleasure of announcing the winners and sharing their ideas!




Carole Ward – with her entry about the many ways she attracts wildlife to her garden




Steve Bustin – with his entry on keeping chickens


Runner up – Best Environmental Idea

Lee Hines – Environmentally friendly slug traps


Runner up – Best Environmental Idea

Mary Levy – Recycling food waste


Runner up – Best Wildlife Friendly Idea

Caroline Wimble – Wilfdlife friendly slug repelling invention



Runner up – Best Wildlife Friendly Idea

Rebecca Chaudhruri – Hedgehogs


Runners up


Andrew Charles Plantagenet Summers

Catherine Payne-Johnson

Chris Stephens

Irene Smith

Julian Bishop

Laura Ashworth

Marianne Robertson

Mary Cook

Peter Forest

Shelia Shaw


A huge congratulations to all our winners.





We will be sharing lots of the amazing entries we have received over the next few weeks including those from our ten runners-up…. so keep a look out!


October Plant of the Month – Actea simplex (formally Cimicifuga)


(Actaea simplex)

Cimicifuga in garden

This plant is one of our absolute favourites and it’s easy to see why!

A rose by any other name…..

Scientists have proven that Cimicifuga are in fact from the Ranunculaceae family so should now be called Actea! Commonly known as Bugbane, you’ll probably still find these selling as Cimicifuga.

Other common names – Black Cohosh, Black Snakeroot, Fairy Candle.

We currently have two excellent varieties on offer.

Cimicifuga ramosa

Cimicifuga ramosa Atropurpurea
Each plant, when established, will throw up giant spikes up to 210 cm tall in July and August. The stems are black with racemes of stunning white flowers. A spectacular border plant with luscious bright green basal foliage. Winner of a RHS Award of Garden Merit, (see below for details).




Cimicifuga Atropurpurea Brunette

Cimicifuga Atropurpurea Brunette. Luxurious dark chocolate brown-purple foliage is contrasted with beautiful white fragrant flower spikes that appear in late summer or early autumn and last for weeks. A fantastic upright habit, it can reach a height of up to 1.5m.
Luxurious dark chocolate brown-purple foliage is contrasted with beautiful white fragrant flower spikes that appear in late summer or early autumn and last for weeks. A fantastic upright habit, it can reach a height of up to 1.5m.

Cimicifuga, or Actaea are grown for their spectacular lush foliage, much like Hosta are, however where a Hosta’s flowers can be quite unremarkable, the rising spears of Actaea are simply stunning, with clustered racemes of dainty white flowers formed in midsummer.

Their sweet scent is a magnet for insects and they are a great source of nectar for butterflies and bees.

Companion Plants

Actaea really love to be planted in shade, and they are not alone! It can be quite daunting when you find yourself confronted with a North facing or shady garden, but don’t despair – there are far more shade loving plants out there than you think, including flowering varieties that will inject a bit of colour!

For more plants that are ideal for planting in shaded or North facing gardens read our article on Shade Gardening – CLICK HERE.


POTM October Cimicifuga

Cimicifuga will spread out so plant it where it has room to grow. It will thrive in cool positions, they will cope with full sun only if the soil is kept moist but well drained and not in boggy conditions. Ideally plant in full or semi shade. Make sure they are sheltered or protected from frost. This is a long lasting plant that can be slow to start and may not flower in its first year, when it does, deadhead spent flowers. Once established leave undisturbed, feed in late spring.

These are supplied as loose roots – for more information and a helpful video guide with step by step instructions on planting loose roots CLICK HERE.

How to Plant: Peonies

Peonies (Paeonia)

Bold, beautiful and easy to grow

Peony Garden in Dayan Tower, Xi'an, China

Peonies really are a must have perennial garden plant. The enormous and gorgeous blooms are a real sight when in flower and they are so versatile that they can be grown almost anywhere.

Paeonia Sorbet
Paeonia Sorbet. The most spectacular Peony available. Breathtaking and fragrant giant triple layered blooms are produced in early summer. Height 80cm.

The beloved Peony has been around for years of course, but their relevance and place within any modern garden is never in question. Grown for their giant majestic flowers, they look amazing as part of a late spring or early summer border and are accommodating enough to compliment various other perennial plants such as Heleniums, Lupins, Digitalis, Salvia and Poppies.

Companion plants

The staying power of these perennials is amazing and can offer endless pleasure for many years after planting (with stories of lasting over 40 years in parts of America).

We are now entering late autumn and the weather is a little cold outside but no frosts have arrived yet in what we all must agree has been a relatively mild autumn this year. Temperatures are still in double figures in some parts of the country and conditions are perfect for planting Peonies. In fact autumn and spring are ideal times for planting, in preparation of a great show in late spring and throughout the summer months. Loose rooted plants are great for planting now and with three or four growth buds you normally find they are more reliable and establish quicker than pot grown Peonies.

Tree Peony suffruticosa Collection


Paeonia Coral Sunset. The most exciting colour development in Peonies for years. Deep orange-coral, semi double and highly fragrant giant flowers, are produced on this attractive 80cm plant. A deserved gold medal winner with the American Peony society
Paeonia Coral Sunset. The most exciting colour development in Peonies for years. Deep orange-coral, semi double and highly fragrant giant flowers, are produced on this attractive 80cm plant. A deserved gold medal winner with the American Peony society

Planting Peonies from loose bare roots is quite an easy task and is suitable for gardeners of all skill levels, and is actually a great introducing to growing perennials for a beginner. They will tolerate neutral to slightly acidic soil, provided good drainage is present and the soil is well drained. It is often best to start them in autumn in pots, then transplant into their final position in the border once they have been established in late winter or early spring.

Peony ‘Celebrity.’ What an amazing sight when in flower. Ruffled pink blooms with a dash of white blended throughout. Height 80-100cm.
Peony ‘Celebrity’. What an amazing sight when in flower. Ruffled pink blooms with a dash of white blended throughout. Height 80-100cm.
  • Unpack the rooted plants on arrival and prepare the soil by adding some organic matter. Alternatively you can use multi-purpose compost (such as John Innes) which will have an added feed that will be beneficial to encouraging the foliage to grow quicker.
  • Add a couple of crocs to the bottom of the pot. This will allow the moisture to drain away regularly during the growing period.
  • Add compost or soil to approximately one third the height of the pot. Place the roots with the buds facing upwards.
  • Mix some fish and bone meal with the remaining compost and fill firmly around the roots, right up to top of the pot. The fish and bone meal will act as a feed, encouraging vibrant and healthy foliage.
  • As the roots supplied are hardy field grown, the pots should be moved outside and not kept indoors or in a warm greenhouse. They are used to the cold weather so will easily survive outdoors
  • Plant outdoors in sheltered areas as they don’t like windy locations too much, although choose sunny location if possible. Choose a place where you know you are unlikely to move them again such as near larger shrubs, trees or a fence.

Jeff video

Top Tip : Peonies hate being disturbed! To avoid this make sure that once the foliage is well establish and ready to plant outdoors into their final location, gently remove the entire contents of the pot and replant into a hole the same depth of the pot (replant all in one go, no division of roots from soil). This essentially tricks the plants into thinking they haven’t been disturbed and won’t result in a slowdown of growth.

Paeonia suffr. 'Dao Jin'

How-to Tutorial

Jeff Turner offers helpful advice and tips for creating a magnificent colour display with these terrific plants.


Peonies are relatively easy to care for and provided you don’t move them too much you will find they offer little problems. Because of the large sized heads they produce, you may find that you will need to offer the plants some support and staking the stems can be beneficial. Water lightly on a regularly basis during the early periods but they are drought resistant once established, provided the soil is getting enough moisture.

Paeonia Top Brass
Paeonia Top Brass. Amazing tri-coloured giant blooms, a real first for Peonies. These highly fragrant flowers make this a cut flower must. The plant has a very strong and compact 70cm habit.

You can provide a liquid feed in spring to encourage more vibrant and colourful flowers, however provided the soil is relatively fertile, this doesn’t need to be more than once or twice a season. Once flowers begin to fade you can deadhead blooms and cut back to a strong leaf and at the end of the flowering season it’s probably best to cut right back to ground level after flowering has finished. This will help to avoid any overwintering diseases that may occur, while also looking neater and tidier on the whole.

Peony Sarah Bernhardt. Giant scented double pink flowers in June-July. A fantastic, popular border plant that increases in size and beauty year after year. Height 90cm.

You can apply a light winter mulch in the first year if very cold frosts exist to avoid the new roots from heaving out of the soil during frozen periods. The roots are field grown and very hardy so a mulch is not a requirement but can be extra protection if you feel it is needed. After the plant has become fully establish and survived a full calendar period, then there is no need to mulch at all.

Gardening for Shaded Areas

Shade Gardening

If you find that your garden has limited access to natural light then fear not, there are still many plants available for growing in partial or even fully shaded areas.


Highly shaded areas need not be a deterrent to getting active in the garden and are in fact increasing becoming more popular as gardeners in many urban areas are finding ways of making the most of every possible little piece of space. Be creative and you will easily find something that can fill almost every little corner of the garden.

Balcony in Ang Mo Kio area. Growing flowers and herbs in hanging pots balcony/corridor is very popular in Singapore .
Balcony in Ang Mo Kio area. Growing flowers and herbs in hanging pots in a balcony or corridor is very popular in Singapore.

Creating your own border when light is restricted can actually be an easy process and doesn’t differ too much from planning a sunny border.

But first!

Two essential considerations when selecting shade loving plants….

  • Good drainage
  • Make sure the soil receives a good level of nutrients

During the wetter periods of the year and in particular when little light is present to absorb the extra moisture on the surface, good drainage will help maintain a good growing environment and provide the best chance possible for the roots. Because the sun is restricted then you can help the plants in shaded areas by adding a natural organic substance or fertiliser to the soil to help enrich the soil. This will help replace the nutrients that may be missing and hopefully help avoid the soil from drying out.

shadey garden path

Creating your own border when light is limited can be an easy process. When choosing plants have a check to see if they will tolerate partial shade or full shade, then let your own preference be the guide. Have a look now at some of our suggested plants and bulbs, all suitable for planting now in preparation for flowering next year.


The range of perennial plants and shrubs available is quite extensive and there is sure to be something for everyone.


Hosata smaller

Designer Hostas are a popular choice because of the wonderful foliage they offer and can really add a touch of class to the border.


Mixed ferns

Ferns will prosper beautifully and come in such a variety of colours that they must be worth a try.


Toad lilies

Tricyrtis (Toad Lilies) can also be used to add an unusual effect with their truly amazing spotted flowers in autumn.



The front of a border can benefit from the stunning foliage that Heuchera can bring, particularly since recent developments in breeding have introduced new colourful varieties such as ‘Autumn Leaves’ (bright ruby red foliage) and ‘Plum Royale’ (shiny purple foliage). These low-growing plants will easily fill gaps and spaces in the border that may be left between larger trees and shrubs.

Convallaria Bordeaux


If you would like to add little fragrance in spring then we suggest trying the very reliable Convallaria Bordeaux (Giant Lily of the Valley), great for planting in groups where the white flowers show themselves from the middle of spring on wards.



Monarda are a superb choice for fragrance in summer and autumn, where the spiky head flowers are complimented by a wonderful mint aroma.

Bergenia Erioca

Bergenia Erioca

A new improved version of the more common Bergenia. The hardiness of Bergenia makes it suitable for gardens all over the country, even in some of the colder parts of northeast Scotland.


Popular shrubs for a shade-loving border come in all shapes and sizes. Some can be grown as stand-alone items in a border, while all those listed below will work side-by-side with many perennials and shrubs to add a really varied showing.

Big leaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea Magical Revolution Blue

The big leaf varieties will do well in shade. Our pick is Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Magical Revolution Blue,’ which will tolerate even fully shaded areas where almost no natural light gets in. This variety produces large headed blue flowers, which actually turn deep purple as the flowers mature.

Juniper Sky Rocket

Juniper Rocket Juniperus

A marvellous narrow conifer tree that can grow up to 3m, and because of its slender column shape it will not restrict light for other areas of the garden.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia - Virginia Creeper growng with Hedera - Ivy on house wall

If you have a south-facing or a wall where light is obstructed then why not try growing a climber up the wall, with Virginia Creeper the ideal candidate because of its remarkable leaf colourings, especially in autumn.

Vinca major ‘Variegata’

Vinca Major Variegata

A great variegated leafed evergreen shrub that will grow in almost any garden soil and location. Wonderful for growing underneath trees as well, where the blue flowers appearing in spring can last up until autumn.

Pachysandra terminalis

Pachysandra terminalis

For year around appeal you could also try the increasingly popular Pachysandra terminalis, which will save hours of intensive garden labour by suppressing weeds and acting as a ground cover shrub. The vivid green, succulent foliage is a real sight when planted in rows and can act as a low growing path boundary or screen.


A good way to make the most of shaded areas under trees and large shrubs is the introduction of naturalising bulbs, which left undisturbed over time will often multiply to create a beautiful woodland effect.

English grown Daffodils and Narcissi bulbs


Many varieties are suitable to grow is shaded areas and our favourites to give a try are ‘Cheerfulness’ (Showy double white variety), ‘St. Patrick’s Day’ (Lemon yellow blooms) and the original native UK Daffodil ‘Obvallaris’, fondly known as the Tenby Daffodil. (Illustrated in order mentioned from left to right).

Crocus and Miscellaneous bulbs

misc bulbs

Great for planting en masse and leaving to multiply in highly shaded areas. The dwarf nature of these perennial bulbs make they great for adding a little bit of colour where needed. For some spring colour try planting Crocus ‘Prince Claus’ (colourful blend of white and blue) or the wonderful yellow Crocus ‘Fuscotinctus’. Iris reticulata ‘Cantab’ will offer an enchanting pale blue display or the popular Muscari armeniacum will create a sea of lavender blue/purple.



The perfect flower to round up our list. Coming across bluebells in the wild is a real treat and many people like to grow their own. They love being planted under trees and are a real delight in dappled shade. Also supply these in the green for easy transplantation and reliable results.

September Plant of the Month – Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea mixed

Echinacea are incredibly vibrant coloured cone flowers with giant heads on tall stems. Their bright colours will attract wildlife to your garden, as bees and butterflies love this plant as much as we do. The purpurea varieties are the only Echinacea grown from root stock, producing those thick stems that make them perfect for use as cut flowers. Echinacea are a tough plant, their eye catching colourful blooms that draw so much attention actually love to be ignored, a great hassle free choice for you garden.

The delightful shades of Echinacea purpurea are ideal for a summer border. The cheerful flowers look great mixed in with other plants and bulbs, or can be planted en-masse for a bold splash of colour. They will even do well in pots – plant in a deep container and position where they will get plenty of sunlight.

Companion plants

colourful mixed perennials flower bed

Echinacea are spectacular in a mixed border – as illustrated above. They partner really well with Rudbeckia varieties, as you can see above, the bright purples look particularly striking against the bright yellow of the Rudbeckia Goldsturm. We’ve highlighted a few more great companion plants in the gallery below.


POTM September Echinacea Quick facts box

Echinacea need to be grown in full sun, they won’t thrive at all in shade but will cope with a little. They are tolerant of a wide range of soils as long as it is well drained and they are drought tolerant once established. Deadhead to prolong flowering. You can propagate by division in spring and autumn but they prefer not to be disturbed and can become more bushy in habit but less floriferous.

How-to Tutorial

Jeff demonstrates how to plant border perennials together in this easy to follow video. Rudbeckia and Echinacea complement each other exceptionally and both make excellent summer border plants.


Pinch off spent flowers on a regular basis — or use them as cuttings in flower arrangements — to extend the blooming period. Apply a quality flower fertilizer several times during the gardening season to promote big, beautiful blossoms. Mulch to prevent weeds, conserve moisture and improve aesthetics.

Cut plants to the ground in late winter after flowers have gone to seed.

Click HERE to view our full range of Echinacea!

August Plant of the Month – Oriental and OT Lilies

Oriental and OT Lilies

For a large, showy display you can’t go wrong with a beautiful Lily and this month we’re focusing on the Oriental and Oriental Trumpet (OT) Lilies. Native to Japan, these highly fragrant beauties are often called stargazers as their flowers tend to be outward and upward facing, as if they are looking up.

Oriental Lilies

Lily Fields of Gold

With their unusual and unique colour and markings Oriental Lilies are truly exquisite specimens, producing an abundance of flowers per bulb. Hardy and easy to grow, they will reach heights of two to six feet tall, excellent additions to a beds or borders and they can even be grown in pots. Oriental lilies will bloom late in the summer season, July – September.

OT Lilies

Lily Anastasia

OT lilies are a cross between Oriental and Trumpet varieties producing very tall plants, up to 2.5m mature height, perfect for the back of you borders. These beautiful Lilies can be incorporated into the back of your garden borders where they can tower over other bulbs and plants and act as a wonderful backdrop for your display. They will reach their full height by their third year and will naturalise if left undisturbed.


POTM August Oriental & OT Lilies

Plant at least 15cm/6in deep. Liliums prefer fertile, well drained soils, they’re not keen on lime in the soil. Surround each bulb with a little sharp sand under and above to keep off slugs and excessive wet. They give a much better display when planted in clumps of 3, 6 or 12 bulbs, 45cm apart. They appreciate the shelter of low growing shrubs or other plants near their roots. Planting time is from October to April/May. You can also plant lilies in pots. As they can get quite tall use a large pot that will fully accommodate the roots and you may also need to stake the plants for a bit of extra support. Stake at the time of planting to avoid damaging the bulbs.

How-to Video Tutorials

Oriental Lilies

Giant Goliath Lilies

Worse pest: The Red Lily Beatle. The adult bugs will eat away the foliage and flowers. Look out for orange-red eggs or black larvae under the leaves or late for full size (8mm) bright red adult Beatles. You can protect your lilies by spraying them or by hand you can remove and crush them but a large infestation could be very time consuming as you need to check daily!

Lilium Romantics collection
Lilium Romantics collection – These fabulous dwarf lilies are ideal for growing in pots or at the front of a border – perfect for smaller gardens that would be overpowered by the taller varieties.

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July Plant of the Month – Scabiosa caucasica

Scabiosa caucasica

Scabiosa Mixed

Introduced to the UK over 200 years ago Scabiosa caucasia are a striking alternative to the sunny yellow, orange and red shades that tend to dominate the summer months. They become a beautiful sight once their amazing and colourful blooms appear during the summer, flowering perpetually from June through to the first frosts in autumn. They make excellent cut flowers, but left in the garden are highly attractive to butterflies and bees.

POTM July Scabiosa








Scabiosa like a sunny position. They will do best in temperate weather conditions, do not allow to get over wet in winter. In a really hot summer they can die back but as the weather cools towards October they may start to flower again. Extremely hardy and free flowering; they will thrive in most well drained soils – particularly good for chalky soil.


Deadhead to promote flowering. When established they will be more drought tolerant.

Will naturalise if left undisturbed making them a good addition to a wild garden.

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Scabiosa Caucasica Snow Cushion

‘Snow Cushion’ is a mound-forming, deciduous to semi-evergreen perennial with broadly lance-shaped, variably-lobed, grey-green leaves and upright, wiry stems bearing semi-double, white flower heads from early summer into autumn.

This attractive perennial will produce pincushion type flowers from June through to late October. They are very hardy plants and free flowering, and Scabiosa thrive in most types of well drained soil.

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