Snow is on the way, at least according to the ever-changing weather forecast. Wrap up well so, and let’s try and enjoy it while we can. If we get some of it, that is. I have to be honest, I wouldn’t mind just a bit of snow. It is very seasonal and it looks stunning on the plants around the centre, kind of magical and definitely Christmassy. Holly covered in red berries with white clouds of snow acting like little cushions on the leaves will win the hearts of even the least interested person. But apart from Holly, there are other foliage plants quite fitting for this time of year, whether you want to use them in a flower arrangement, a wreath or just enjoy them in the garden. And not all of them are big, overpowering and suitable only for large areas.
Makes no difference if the garden is small, large, sunny, shady, country or suburban. We all have one thing in common- a garden shed of some sort! And usually, it is a thing standing in a corner, painted or not, with very little going for it. Things are changing slowly, and we are making those into features and enjoyable spaces. Not fast enough though. And sometimes it won’t have to cost a lot to transform it into something stunning. Think Ivy. Evergreen foliage climbs the side of your shed, artfully covering the wall and hanging down from the roof.
Making it look like it is there for decades rather than years. Dark green is my favourite colour when it comes to Ivy, but we have so many variegations now it is hard to keep up. Another striking is Sulphur Heart, a dark green outside with a splash of bright lime yellow in the middle of each leaf. No matter which Ivy you decide to go for, they are all very easygoing and non-demanding. Just don’t plant them in direct sunlight. Once you have an established plant on your hands it is easy to take cuttings for all sorts of decorating purposes. It is good to use, flexible, stays fresh for long periods of time and looks really well.
Let’s stay with the shed for a little longer, because most of us are trying already to make it prettier by planting something in front of them. This in itself is a very good idea, just the choice sometimes should be different. Believe it or not, Leylandii is still a plant widely used to cover or disguise a shed wall. Each to their own when it comes to planting it, I can see some advantages. One could be the NEVER- ENDING supply of greenery for my centrepieces. But I would opt for something smaller and less maintenance for myself, something that will look good and not take away half my garden.
An Italian Cypress would be on my wish list for sure! Elegant and simple, dense columnar shape with dark green foliage this plant is a show stopper in my opinion. Grows quite tall, but it takes so long for it to reach its’ potential it can be planted in any type of garden, even the small ones. Cupressus sempervirens does not need any pruning, but you could steal a few twigs each year for your Christmas creations without any guilty feeling.
One last shrub worth mentioning today is another easy-going and good-looking specimen. In fact, we cut some of our own ones to include in the greenery bundles last Sunday. Euonymus japonicus “Aureomarginatus” is a lovely and very bright-looking plant that holds well when cut and grows well when in the ground. Non-demanding creature, easy to keep, shape and enjoy. This variety is green with lots of golden yellow on its narrow leaves and won’t grow more than 6 feet tall. If you start looking, there are a lot of different types ready on the market, depending on your needs and wants. Each of those lovely plants can be a great addition to a hedge, wall or stand-alone feature. I have chosen our one, as it absolutely brightened up the dark green shades of the other cuttings.
Here you have three examples of really good evergreen foliage plants. They will be great for any type of flower arranging. And I thought it is very fitting to mention those now more than ever. Just to show Christmas is not only about Holly and the Christmas tree cuttings. Each one of the three looks like the part mixed with some dried oranges, cinnamon sticks and lotus flowers. Or with any other decorations, you might choose to use. When you have all this growth on your doorstep it becomes a cheap and easy solution to endless possibilities.
Magda O’ Byrne.