Advertisement
Advertisement
A mass of holly berries at Calthorpe Road, Ryde.

A mass of holly berries at Calthorpe Road, Ryde.

Defensive planting with a wonderful burst of colour

Richard Wright

[email protected]

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 13:30

ONE year the berries on the bush adage just has to cometrue, hasn’t it?

Each autumn, it was tradition to drive my daughters dottywith the ‘it’s going to be a tough winter, look at the berries on thosebushes’.

Of course, it is undoubtedly nonsense.

As far as we know, plants don’t have some magic mechanism topredict future weather, the number of berries being a reflection of the seasonpast.

But one thing is for certain — they are a beautiful additionto the garden at what can be a drab time of year.

I am especially fond of slow-growing holly in pots, which issomething of a defence to especially mean thefts of plants these days.

Potted olives, which decorate many of our restaurantfrontages, seem to be among those going walkabout but we have seen thefts ofmunicipal plantings too.

I have seen several empty pots in recent months, which isnot something that would afflict holly, which is one of the ultimate so-calleddefensive plantings.

There is an ever greater number of holly varieties nowadaysand their deep green or variegated foliage is great for all-year interest. Thenthere is the added bonus of those beautiful berries.

One holly tree close to where I live has almost forgotten toput on leaf growth, instead clothing itself almost entirely in berries.

But they are nothing when compared to both pyracantha andcotoneaster, which are not only bright and beautiful, they are useful too.

They provide an excellent source of food and shelter for thewildlife in our gardens and a significant source of nectar when the bees haveslim pickings in the ‘June gap’. The magnificent fiery orange and ruby redberries are set against a backdrop of dark, evergreen, glossy foliage that canbrighten up the gloomiest winter day.

Pyracantha is another defensive planting for areas where youdon’t want theft or intruders.

It is instantly apparent why pyracantha is commonly known asfirethorn if you have ever been pricked by one.

Plant them close together and within a couple of years they willbe almost completely impenetrable by human or animal.

If you want specimen shrubs, plant them a metre or so apartbut at half that distance if you want a hedge.

Cotoneaster is the gentler sister of pyracantha — it isthornless and therefore sometimes chosen over pyracantha by those who want thebeauty without the beastly bite.

Both plants can be grown as hedges, groundcover or againstwalls and fences; they look equally good as freestanding shrubs.

They are easy to grow in sun or partial shade and in anyreasonable soil The only slight downside is some varieties have what issometimes described as a pungent smell at blossom time.

Make sure you make the most of those knowledgeable expertsat your garden centre and get advice on the right plant for you and yourgarden.

Like holly, pyracantha is easily pruned and kept in shapewhether it be hedge, wall-trained or in a container.

But, bear in mind, pyracantha flowers mainly on shootsproduced the previous year, so when pruning try to retain as much two-year-oldwood as possible and wear thick gloves.

Prune out shoots badly affected by pyracantha scab. Theseare easy to spot as the leaves (and often the berries too) will be covered inunsightly black scabs.

Pyracantha usually responds reliably to very heavy pruningwhen overgrown plants need to be renovated.

Pyracantha is suitable for any moderately fertile gardensoil in sun or partial shade, including very dry, free-draining soils, andheavy clays, as long as they are not prone to water-logging.

Berrying can be reduced in shady sites, including againstnorth-facing walls.

If training pyracantha along a wall or fence, plant at least20ins out from the wall to avoid the dry area at the base.

Before planting, enrich the soil by adding a bucketful ofwell-rotted organic matter and a handful of balanced general purposefertiliser, and then mix with the soil using a fork.

If you are thinking of these plants, pyracantha Navajo andpyracantha orange charmer are excellent examples. Orange charmer is anevergreen, bushy, arching shrub with white flowers from April and largespherical orange fruits in autumn.

Navajo sports vibrant orange red berries nestled againstshiny green leaves and can be resistant to fireblight.

l This is the time for hearth and home. Draw the curtainsand cosy in for the evening.

Re-discover the pleasures of reading this year as the nightsdraw in. Use the time to study your gardening books and draw up your plans forthe spring.

Of course, armchair time is even more enjoyable when you’vehad an active day, so be sure to make the most of fine days for sorting outaround the garden.

The gardening websites and magazines are full of lists ofjobs to do to get things ready for winter, but one of the most important is toleave some suitable habitat for our precious garden wildlife. 

 


Advertisement
ISLE OF WIGHT TRAVEL
Travel filler
ISLE OF WIGHT WEATHER

Now7℃

12:00

7℃

15:00

7℃

18:00

7℃

21:00

1℃

More Gardening News

Why keeping a healthy lawn is so important to us all Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How to turn up the heat at a chilli time of the year Friday, November 24, 2017

Chinese big on miniatures too Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Painting the garden rainbow Tuesday, October 31, 2017

ISLE OF WIGHT TRAVEL
Travel filler
ISLE OF WIGHT WEATHER

Now7℃

12:00

7℃

15:00

7℃

18:00

7℃

21:00

1℃

ISLE OF WIGHT TRAVEL
Travel filler