Whats Hot- January/February 2005

January 12, 2005
Written by Lorraine Hunter
Four-season shrubs brighten the winter garden

As gardeners look out their windows, dreaming about spring planting, its time to think about brightening up the winter landscape. No wonder the recurring theme in current issues of Canadian consumer gardening magazines is shrubs and small trees for late fall, winter and early spring colour in the northern garden.

Canadian Gardening Winter 2005 issue profiles witch hazel (Hamamelis spp.), the shrub that blooms in the middle of winter with tiny flowers that look like mini firecrackers or tiny party streamers. Popular February blooming cultivars include ‘Diane’ with brilliant red flowers; ‘Feuerzauber’ aka ‘Fire Charm’ with large coppery blooms and yellow-orange foliage in fall; and ‘Palleda’ a sweetly fragrant variety with pale yellow flowers.

Canadian Gardening also features woody shrubs that offer four-season beauty in the garden. These include ‘Green Mountain’ boxwood (Buxus microphylla var. koreana x B. sempervirens; ‘Blue Prince’/’Blue Princess’ holly (Ilex x meserveae ‘Bleu Prince’ or ‘Blue Princess;’ Rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa); and Hicks yew (Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’), all good for hedges. Other good shrub choices include red osier dogwood (Cornus stolonofera) for moist soil; Scotch Heather (Calluna vulgaris) cultivars ‘H. E. Beale’ and ‘Silver King;’ for peaty soil; and Gold Star juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Bakaurea’ Gold Star) for light, well-drained soil.

Also noted are early spring flowering perennials: snowy-white-blossomed Helleborus ‘Mrs. Betty Ranica,’ ‘Hadspen Cream’ variegated Siberian bugloss with light blue flowers in early spring, and buttercup yellow ‘Sunshine Susie’ Primula.

Gardening Life, November/December 2004, highlights holly for hedges and screens and to add structure and texture to the mixed border. Best planted in spring, recommended varieties include: the above-mentioned Blue holly (Ilex x meserveae); Possumhaw (I. decidua), a rangy deciduous holly native to North America; Inkberry (I. glabra), native to eastern North America, with dark-green leaves and black berries if there is a pollinator; Japanese holly (I. crenata) with narrow, shiny leaves, ideal for hedges; English holly (I. aquifolium), a slow-growing evergreen with red or yellow berries and spiky leaves; winterberry (I. verticillata) found in swampy areas of eastern forests, an upright shrub with lance-shaped leaves and fuzzy undersides and red berries that hang on all winter; and American holly (I. opaca) that can reach heights of 30 to 50 feet (nine to 15 metres).

Gardens West, November/December 2004, also concentrates on shrubs and trees, specifically those garlanded with berries and fruit in winter. The article singles out the beautyberry Calliacrpa bodinieri ‘Profusions’ with violet-purple berries; Pyracantha ‘Golden Charmer’ with golden-coloured berries; the rowan Sorbus hupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’ with grey-green leaves and strawberry-gelato coloured berries in winter; and Euonymus europaeus, the spindle tree, with masses of white flowers in spring.

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