Geranium palmatum AGM – Canary Island Geranium

This handsome evergreen perennial gives me pleasure pretty much all year round; I can be walking down the path on a grey winter’s day, and my eye will be caught by its fresh green foliage. It’s quite unlike any other: apart from its sister plant Geranium maderense which is even more arresting in appearance, but only hardy in very mild and sheltered areas.  So, in early summer the plant will be a mass of purplish pink flowers held high on stout stems above the beautiful, deeply divided leaves. These flowers last well and will give a good display throughout the...

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Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ – Winter flowering cherry

Unlike many of its springtime show-off cousins, this is an understated and elegant small tree, and one of the best for winter interest in the smaller garden. Deciduous and spreading, its leaves show good autumn colour, and they are followed by delicate, semi-double, white flowers tinged with pink, which can appear intermittently throughout late autumn and winter, only being halted by periods of frost. I like to see this winter flowering cherry grown as a specimen, in sun or part shade, and preferably against an evergreen background which best shows off the flowers. If you can enjoy it from the...

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Malus domestica ‘Sturmer Pippin’

If you spot an apple tree still bearing fruit at this time of the year, chances are it will be a Sturmer Pippin. This is a very late cropping variety that was highly regarded in the Victorian period because it keeps so well on (and off) the tree; it will remain hanging on into January if the birds don’t get there first! This is a useful late apple to grow, because in September and October there are so many other autumn treats from which to choose. So exactly when you harvest the fruit depends upon geographical location, location in...

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Salix alba var. vitellina ‘Britzensis’

Willows are a diverse lot, but if it’s shout-out-loud winter colour you’re after, then look no further than my subject today – it simply cannot be ignored in the December garden.  Known also as the scarlet willow or the coral bark willow, the young stems are nearer orange than red, and they create a fiery glow right through until the end of March at which point the colour is at its most intense. It is by then looking so spectacular that it can be difficult to reach for the pruning saw: but prune it you must, unless you have...

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