Author: Janine Winlaw

Garden Talk: In praise of cherry blossom

There’s nothing prettier than pink cherry blossom against a clear blue sky – a sign winter is behind us and spring is here. Most cherries flower from March to May and there’s a type of blossom to suit all tastes from delicate, single blooms to blousy doubles, in whites and the palest pinks to bright candy floss pink. Cherries are a great choice of tree for London gardens as many varieties don’t get too big and the foliage colours beautifully in autumn giving another season of interest. Here are 10 of the best: Pale pink Prunus ‘Pink Shell’ A small, elegant tree with spreading branches and delicate single, pale pink flowers – a lovely contrast to the light green leaves. This is one of the prettiest cherries and widely available. 4m. Prunus ‘Kojo-no-mai’ A compact cherry tree/shrub – with delicate very pale pink flowers and wonderful autumn foliage. Ideal for containers. 2.5m Prunus ‘Accolade’ A graceful spreading tree with a cloud of large pastel pink semi-double flowers in April/May. It also has smooth reddish brown bark and …

Garden Talk: And so to bed

It’s chilly out there, the lawn’s looking muddy and the borders tatty, but a bit of tidying now will make the garden look neat over the Christmas period and get you one step ahead for spring… Cut back… …but don’t be too tidy. Some perennials such as sedum have attractive seed heads that look great covered in frost or dew. Ornamental grasses also add winter structure as do dried out hydrangea heads – both can be pruned in spring. Cut back perennials that are looking tatty and brown such as peonies and Verbena bonariensis to around to 5cm from ground level. (Leave more tender plants such as penstemon until April or May after the frosts.) Wisteria can be pruned now and give roses a light trim, removing long or damaged shoots. Now they’re dormant, apples, pears, currants and autumn fruiting raspberries can also be pruned from now on. Likewise, trim off any dead, diseased or rubbing branches from shrubs and trees. Acers and birch are particularly suited to pruning now, before the sap starts to flow. …

Garden Talk: The Best Evergreen Climbers

Evergreen climbers are one of the most useful plants in city gardens. Covering fences in green foliage, they blur boundaries and create a lush backdrop for planting throughout the year. There are lots to choose from, all offering something different: foliage, flowers, berries, colour and scent. Here are my favourites.  Luscious leaves  Trachelospermum jasminoides With neat glossy foliage and sweet smelling flowers, this tops the list. It copes with shade but in sun will reward you with a mass of tiny white summer flowers that smell of the Mediterranean. I also like the ‘Variegatum’ variety with white splashed leaves, or for something different try the yellow flowered ‘Star of Toscana’. Trachelospermum takes a while to establish but will eventually coat your fence in dense foliage, which just needs a light prune after flowering to keep in check. Pileostegia viburnoides Evergreen, self-clinging and shade tolerant, this is a useful new find of mine. It has long glossy green leaves and sprays of white flowers in late summer, early autumn. It’s slow growing but is a stunning …

Garden Talk: Get ahead with spring bulbs

It may seem a way off, but autumn is the time to plant your spring bulbs – you’ll really appreciate those splashes of colour after the grey winter months. Bulbs look great in drifts under deciduous trees and bushes or at the front of borders, but work well in containers too. Here are a few to try. Crocuses One of the first flowers to emerge in February, they create a pretty wash of purple or yellow naturalised in the lawn and are lovely clustered under magnolia trees or crammed into pots. Soft purple C. tommasinianus ‘Barr’s Purple’ with its golden orange stamens is a winner while C. vernus ‘Pickwick’ is more robust and bigger (12-15cm), so good for impact on a dull winter’s day. Sarah Raven’s favourite C.minimus ‘Spring Beauty’ is a stunner and great in pots on the windowsill where you can admire the striking dark purple stripe on the outer petal. Most need well drained soil and sun. Narcissi Daffodils are a must for cheerful spring colour and lovely scent, and there’s a …

Garden Talk: Get into grasses

Ornamental grasses are at their best now. Their faded buttery seedheads look wonderful swaying amongst late summer perennials, purple asters, pink anemones, and yellow helenium. Most like sun and free draining soil (though some are fine in shade) and look amazing in big drifts. But they also work well dotted around smaller gardens linking plants and adding a naturalism, movement and texture to planting. They don’t need feeding or watering when established and add autumn and winter interest. Here are some to try: Miscanthus Miscanthus sinensis ‘Ferner Osten’ is a popular variety of this striking statement grass with arching leaves and a fountain of burgundy pink flowers in August. Great for late season interest with its coppery autumn leaves. (1.6 m). Starlight is a smaller version. Miscanthus sinensis ‘Kleine Silberspinne’ is more compact at 1.2m with burgundy plumes fading to a shimmery silver, so nice where it catches the winter light. It looking great with Anemone x hybrida ‘September Charm.’ Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’. A delicate variety that rarely flowers but is grown for the …