On a recent visit to Wisley I was totally in awe of the reds, yellows, oranges and silver stems surrounding the lake. Truly a magical experience and not a flower in sight. All the colour was provided by colourful winter stems.
Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’
This is truly a flame coloured Cornus and one of my all time favorites. It looks incredible at this time of the year on it’s own or underplanted with black Ophiopogon and white snowdrops. Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ provides scarlet stems. Most of the twiggy Cornus benefit from coppicing every Spring which means cutting right down. This is essential to encourage the coloured stems for future years. Often the Midwinter Fire can be left for two to three years between pruning.
Salix alba ‘Vitellina’
This incredible willow has bright yellow stems and is a must for pond side planting. It can either be coppiced to the ground each year or pollarded to the top of a trunk. The resultant growth is spectacular like a firework on a dull winters day.
This is more commonly known as the ghost bramble and resembles the ash left by the embers of a fire. My memory of this plant is it won the rudest name competition at Kew one year!! Cutting to the ground encourages regeneration and checks vigour.
Use of Prunings
Coloured stems can be kept as pea stick and stakes, used in vases or cut up and dried for kindling. If you feel a little more artistic then weaving a living willow hedge or archway is such a simple use of what would otherwise be discarded.
February is a busy month for me Wisteria and rose pruning but I can spend half a day in your garden identifying your plants, teaching you how to look after them and discuss design ideas. I can also work out a maintenance programme for you. The visit is followed up by a written report so you don’t have to remember all those Latin names! This may be all you need to gain a little confidence in the garden to maintain it yourself. I can also work with you and teach you pruning or I can just do it for you!
Cathie’s Garden Army
If you have lost control of your garden completely we are here to help! A qualified team of horticulturists can transform your garden in a day following a consultancy and can even maintain it for you too once we have worked our magic.