Jackie Power: winter is coming

News Desk (03 November, 2016) Columnists

Cooler conditions are now a dominant feature of the weather pattern with rain and mist making the days overcast

735Jackie Power

The garden has taken on its autumnal shades; leaf colour is vivid due to earlier mild weather, but winter is edging closer.

Cooler conditions are now a dominant feature of the weather pattern with rain and mist making the days overcast.

There are still flowering plants to enjoy including the cheerful Dahlias, small fragrant Cyclamen hederifolium; summer hybrid tea roses are still in bloom and have become a regular feature of the autumn garden.

November is a good time to plant trees – soil conditions remain workable, the ground is not yet frozen or water logged. Trees planted in the next few weeks will have a chance to establish roots before harsher weather sets in.

If you have space for a tree try an Apple or Pear; there are dwarf trees plus minarettes suitable for smaller gardens, patios and balconies. Apple trees grow on specific root stock which determines the size of the tree. A rough guide – M27 grows to about 4ft (1.2m); M9 to about 5ft (1.6m) and M26 will reach a height of about 6ft (1.8m). There are a wide variety of apples available on these different root stocks. The taller trees are M2 which grow to 11ft (3.2m) and M4 to 12ft (3.5m).

Plant apples in pairs (from the same pollinating group) to ensure fruiting, or there are ‘family trees’ available with 3 varieties growing on one tree. Specialist nursery Ken Muir usually has a good range of fruit trees www.kenmuir.co.uk or call 01255 830181 for a catalogue.

My plant of the month is Camellia sasanqua (pictured), an autumn flowering shrub or small tree which grows to 3m or up to 10m depending on the variety. It has attractive glossy, dark green leaves and produces fragrant flowers in autumn. There are many attractive varieties available such as ‘Bonanza’ a dwarf type with deep red flowers. ‘Cleopatra’ has rose pink flowers; ‘Yuletide’ produces red blooms with yellow stamens. Camellia sasanqua is rarely seen in gardens, which is surprising as it tolerates a range of soil conditions and is less fussy than its spring cousin Camellia japonica. Grow C. sasanqua as a specimen shrub either in the lawn or border; it will grow in pots as long as it is provided with a rich soil and well drained conditions.

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Jackie Power