Nandina domestica

Otherwise known as the sacred or heavenly bamboo, it is in fact a member of the same family as Berbers and Mahonia. It is the eastern equivalent of holly, being widespread in India, Japan and China. In Japan (where it is often grown in a pot outside the front door), it is said that if you have a nightmare you should go and tell your nandina, so as to dispel any harm that might otherwise follow. A bit like our European equivalent of telling the bees (if you’re a beekeeper) about the important events in your life. Who knows where these customs...

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Euphorbia x pasteurii ‘John Phillips’ AGM

In the summer months, they are mostly background, but when winter comes, they are backbone. From now on, evergreen shrubs become more and more important as the last remaining leaves of deciduous plants fall to earth. Coloured stems, bare twigs, and silhouettes of trees, all play their part in the winter garden, as do the many highly scented flowers that come into their own as the new year unfolds; but right now, the evergreen shrubs hold centre stage, and none does it better than my special plant this week. It is a truly garden–worthy plant: architectural, robust and vigorous, and...

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Polypoduim cambricum ‘Richard Kayse’ AGM

Around about the time that Vermeer was finishing his painting ‘The Astronomer’, and in the year that Spain recognised Portugal as an independent nation, a man named Richard Kayse from Bristol discovered this beautiful fern growing on limestone cliffs near Cardiff. Two centuries later it had disappeared from cultivation, and it was not until another 200 years had passed, in 1980, that fern expert Martin Rickard set out with a pair of binoculars and rediscovered it in the exact same spot, in an area which is now an SSSI: Site of Special Scientific Interest. This beautiful, slowly spreading fern...

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white and pink flowers

Chrysanthemum ‘Innocence’ AGM

For years I fought against growing chrysanthemums, probably influenced by their association with funerals, and with those garish bunches wrapped in coloured cellophane on garage forecourts; but recently and most particularly after growing ‘Innocence’ I have come to appreciate their contribution to our garden at what can be rather a sombre time of year. Who could not enjoy the soft pinky white flowers that welcome me each time I step out of the back door? Flowers that have, last week, weathered and come sailing through -2.8 degrees! ‘Innocence’ is one of the single Korean chrysanthemums, which have been bred over many...

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