Plant of the Month: February

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’

by Sue Gray

February can be a rather miserable month in the garden; whilst there are signs of hope of things to come, a plant that really ‘does its thing’ at this time of year is extremely welcome, and Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is just that.

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’

Daphne bholua is a species of shrub from Nepal, where it grows in the Himalayas and other mountain ranges to a height of 3,500 metres.  There are a number of named varieties but by far the most freely available is ‘Jacqueline Postill’.  This may be because it was bred by Alan Postill, a ‘Master Propagator and Plant Breeder’ at Hilliers, who named it for his wife, and was presumably distributed by them.

It is a slender, medium sized shrub reaching to about 2.5m in height, which is described as ‘semi-evergreen’.  In the milder winters that we are now experiencing, I find it reliably evergreen which, if as happened mid-January this year, there is a heavy downfall of snow, the branches can be weighed down, causing the stems to splay out if the snow is not removed soon enough.

Flowers appear as deep pink buds, opening to pale pink/white flowers which emit a lovely perfume.  If, as we sometimes do, we get a ‘balmy’ February day, the scent can be appreciated throughout the garden, but even on not so good days, at closer quarters, the fragrance is lovely.

The only downside I have found with the shrub is that it can sucker quite freely.  I have lifted several and potted them up, but to date they have not grown much.  Andy McIndoe recommends severing the root from the parent plant and leaving to develop its own root system before lifting the new plant, but I am never patient enough, which probably explains why mine do not flourish.

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ holds the Award of Garden Merit and is, in my mind, a very worthwhile plant in any garden.

Sue Gray

Picture courtesy of the HPS Image Library

P.S. This plant has been the subject of a previous Plant of the Month blog by Jane Orton –  if you would like to see it, click here

Some of the structural plants – and more – in my winter garden

by Brian Denison

I missed the First of January Picture show, obviously not brave enough to face the cold of New Year’s Day, unlike so many of our enthusiastic, fearless members. Having picked a more amenable day, here are my offerings.

This combination of Yew, Phormium cookianum subsp. hookeri ‘Cream Delight’, Hebe and Elaeagnus pungens ‘Maculata’ is a pleasant structural combination in Winter (fig 1).

Fig. 1 Yew, Elaeagnus pungens ‘Maculata’, Phormium and Hebe

In Christopher Lloyd’s book ‘The ‘Well Chosen Garden’ the latter was described as having the inelegant habit of side shoots that grow at every sort of awkward angle from its main branches. Perhaps that’s why it seems to have been replaced with new varieties such as Elaeagnus x submacrophylla ‘Gilt Edge’ and ‘Limelight’, but I like it.

Fig. 2 Front border Jan 2021

Repetition of the Phormium in Fig 2 adds further winter interest.

Fig. 3 Helleborus argutifolius ‘Silver Lace’

Fig 3 is Helleborus argutifolius ‘Silver Lace’.

Fig. 4 Phyllostachys nigra

 Fig 4 is Phyllostachys nigra which I think is looking good but does need the stems clearing again.

Fig. 5 Polystichum polybretharum

Fig. 5 is Polystichum polyblepharum, one of my favourite evergreen ferns.

Fig. 6 Photinia serratifolia ‘Pink Crispy’

Fig. 6 is Photinia serratifolia ‘Pink Crispy’

Fig. 7 Equisetum hyemale

Fig 7 is Equisetum hyemale. I am including this plant because I like it as an architectural feature but not its habit of sprouting lots of small offshoots from the tips and sides of the stems. Last year I had a large pot bound specimen which I thought of discarding but instead I divided it and potted up a couple of divisions.Some time later I cut the potted plants down to the ground and the picture shows the resulting new growth. I am pleased with this result and now wished I had saved a third specimen.

Fig. 8 Ilex aquifolium ‘Golden Queen’

Fig. 8. This is the stem of a large standard Ilex aquifolium ‘Golden Queen’ which I planted as a shrub over 25 years ago. I trained it as a standard to add height and to indicate the extremity of the garden. I really like the new cream shoots that have appeared near the base of the trunk, presumably due to lack of light – a bonus.

Fig. 9 Underplanted conifer

Fig 9 I underplanted the conifer Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Plumosa Aurea Nana’ with Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’ since it is tough and tolerates shade. It has survived amongst the roots of the conifer where other plants have failed. It is accompanied by Chiastophyllum oppositifolium ‘Jim’s Pride’.

Brian Denison

New Year’s Day Gallery

To celebrate the passing of that most unloved of years, 2020, Sue Gray suggested that we should start off the new year by going and out and seeing what was looking good in our gardens.

I’m delighted to say that over twenty members were able to find some flowers or foliage worthy of inclusion, so here they are. I’ve arranged them in first name order

Weather: Very cold and cloudy with lying snow for many of us. A slight thaw during New Year’s Day itself gave bold photographers a chance to find some blooms peeping through the icy blanket. Lucky we chose the 1st January, because the 2nd brought lots more snow!

Alan Wilson leads the way

Amanda Fincham comes next – she says, “All un-named I’m afraid as they were already in the garden when I got here.”

Ann Fritchley was a regular contributor to the Lockdown Gallery. She says, “I said only about 10 days ago I listed 20 plants flowering,  like the new Snowdrops, Hellebores, and one Ipheon flower, or things hanging on like the Hesperantha and Campanula, Chrysanthemum, Erysimum, Primulas,  etc.  A bit of sunshine would have brightened them up”. It looks like there’s still something to see there thoughincluding some hardy wildlife!

The Hackett garden is more like a ski slope with trees this week, but some pictures were taken without injury either to the plants or me

Carine Carson’s new garden is beginning to take shape

Denise Dyson was keen to take part in the New Year’s Day project. She said it’s all part of making the best of a difficult situation. Hear, hear.

Diane Rawnsley has a Pheasant Berry that’s still looking splendid

Glenda Wray says she doesn’t understand how her camera works – I beg to differ!

Jenny Williamson has sent in some winter vignettes. She says “Have not been suffering long from White Fever but think it has set in now!”

Jill Lister has plenty to show in her garden but also wants to give an honorable mention to Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ (not included) – it continues to flower prolifically, but the photo’s not great!

Judith Edmonds comments “Thankfully less frozen today or I would have been risking life & limb to go out and take photos!

Judith Ladley says there’s nothing in flower in her garden, but these two excellent pot more than make up for it, I think!

And Kate van Heel was in a similar frame of mind – she says “A dismal day for photos but I’ve tried!

Lesley Woledge’s winter piece de resistance is a superb Melianthus which has come into its own after unpromising beginnings

Last time I saw Liz Hall’s garden was in midsummer and we were enjoying a heatwave. Nice to see that it still offers treasures in chilly midwinter

Maggie Sugden loves Hellebores. even when they don’t behave…

Margaret Frosztega comments “Together with the odds and ends that the frost has hit a bit, I was surprised how much was looking ok.   This has been an exercise to do regularly in future!”

Nigel Lees sent us these views “from our garden in Leeds, taken on a rather gloomy New Year’s Day….

Pat Gore says “I have tried to rise to the challenge of garden photos despite lots emerging. but little in bloom in my garden!”

Looks like there’s plenty going on in Pat Hunter’s winter garden

A warm welcome on a chilly day to Rena Guttridge with her first gallery picture

And it’s a first time welcome for Ruth Baumberg too, with what she describes as her ‘tatty’ plants, following the cold snap

Our final photographic contribution comes from the person who inspired the New Year’s Day Gallery – our Chair Person, Sue Gray. Great idea.

Not everyone is comfortable with a camera, so I’m delighted that two members opted to send in their NYD plant lists.

And finally, Carine Carson suggested this poem as the perfect sentiment for this time of year

A Winter Poem

This winter tree

Resembles me

Whose sap lies in its root.

The spring draws nigh

As it so I

May bud, perhaps, and shoot.

Thomas Ellwood (1639-1714)