Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland




Early flowers are the backbone

EARLY flowering shrubs are the backbone of any garden or mixed border at this time of year.

Camellias, Forsythia, Ribes, Viburnum tinus and the magnificent early flowering cherry Prunus Autumnalis create spectacular displays in many gardens throughout the country. For scent the evergreen Mahonia x Media charity is unrivalled and the seductive scent of the Daphne Mezerium are bound to excite any passer-by.

Magnolia Stellata is one of the first magnolias to flower and is literally covered in little white star like flowers - a truly magnificent sight, provided we don't get a night's frost which will reduce the white star lit tree to an unsightly burnt looking mess.

Hedera or evergreen ivy makes an excellent hardy self-clinging plant for covering untidy walls, chimney-breasts and fences or as a ground cover plant.

Green leafed varieties are very shade tolerant and will survive under drought conditions. They are an ideal plant for a northfacing wall.

Variegated Ivy prefers more light although it may suffer from wind and frost damage but will recover in spring. Grow variegated Ivy in a sunny sheltered position.

Ivy may be pruned to remove damaged untidy growth and to control the overall height or spread of the plant. Propagate by softwood cuttings or layering in late summer.

Small yellow/green flowers appear in autumn soon to be followed by black fruits.

Hedera Caneriernis, Colchica Sulphur Heart, Gold Heart and Buttercup will make excellent climbing or groundcover plants providing all year round colour and interest.

This is your last chance this week to finish pruning roses. Do not be afraid to prune fairly hard, even if the leaves have started to develop on the branches you remove. The idea is to encourage vigorous growth from low down the plant, as this will carry the main flush of flower this year.

Hygiene is very important. Be sure to clear away every scrap of rose pruning, leaves, stems etc, composting or burning them.