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WONDROUS BLOOMS IN DARKENED DAYS SUE WILLIAMS ‘Fond lovers, cruel as their flame, cut in... trees their Mistress name. Little, Alas, they know, or heed, How far these beauties Hers exceed! Fair Trees! whereso'er your barkes I wound, No Name shall but your own be found.’ (Andrew Marvell)

Wise words from Mr Marvell in the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, should you be tempted to carry out a touch of romantic homily in Crystal Palace Park. This is not the easiest time of year to find anything in the garden with flower or blossom, but there are a small number of trees and shrubs which perform wonderfully in this dreariest part of the winter. Prunus x subhirtella "Autumnalis Rosea" is one of my favourites. More commonly known as the winter flowering cherry, that is exactly what it does ... flowers all winter long. Well! So long as winter keeps its Southern softness and doesn't act up like last year. From autumn through to spring this tree carries clusters of white and pink flowers which are followed by small cherry-like reddy-black fruits. The spring foliage is bronze turning to dark green during the summer. The blooms are not densely borne like some of the showier spring flowering cherries, but they are an unexpected delight in the depths of winter. Also the spreading nature of this Prunus makes it ideal for underplanting with spring bulbs ... especially early crocus and snowdrops. In a smaller garden it's a good idea to check the spread of the tree and pruning should be carried out on a warm summer's day. Roger at the Secret Garden usually carries a good stock of this marvellous if underrated tree. Viburnums, like cherries, are found in most gardens and can be overlooked when planting as only the most common genus come to mind. In fact there are myriad forms of the Viburnum and most of them are hardy and suited to almost all types of soil and situation. Viburnum x bodnantense "Dawn" is a real winter performer. It is

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the spreading nature of this Prunus makes it ideal for underplanting deciduous and from late autumn to spring it carries tubular, rich red to pink to white flowers in dense clusters on bare upright stems. These flowers are also heavily scented which is a boon at this time of year. It's nothing much to write home about in the summer with dark green oblong leaves, so careful siting in the garden to make the most of its seasonal exhibitionism is crucial. Certainly a bed near to the house would make the most of the winter scent. Daphne is a group of slow-growing evergreen and semievergreen shrubs which require a bit more care than the Viburnum and Prunus but are well worth the effort. They dislike being moved, do not grow well in pots and are a bit more demanding on the pocket. But there are two species in particular which ring all the bells for winter colour and scent. Daphne odora is an attractive rounded evergreen shrub with narrow, lance-shaped glossy leaves. From midwinter to early spring this shrub produces purple-pink and white flowers which carry a heady scent. Daphne bholua "Jacqueline Postill" is also evergreen and hails from the Himalayas where it is called the paper daphne due to paper and string once being made from its bark. This shrub is not completely hardy but should flourish in the balmy sub-climate found in the Norwoods. The flowers are deep purplypink on the outside with a white centre and it is most prized for its intoxicating scent. Daphnes will definitely benefit from a yearly mulch and grow well if sited near the shelter of the house where their scent can be best appreciated. Happy Gardening

Profile for Transmission Publications Ltd

The Transmitter issue 22  

A South East London Lifestyle Magazine

The Transmitter issue 22  

A South East London Lifestyle Magazine

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