Posts Tagged ‘ivy’

Not just the holly and the ivy

December 20th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Four Christmas Foliage Shrubs - Nandina, Pittosporum, Mahonia, Hebe.

Last year, about this time, I discussed holly and then ivy, the two favourite Christmas evergreens and the traditional evergreens for indoor decorating in the holiday season. But there are more, plenty more. And a quick look round my local garden centre, The Barn in Oundle near Peterborough, reveals some of them. And it’s the colours that are so appealing, not green but red and silver and purple and bronze.

Most are better suited to small arrangements, they just don’t have the vigour, and so the length of stem, of holly and ivy.

More and more varieties of nandina (top left) are now appearing and while some of them are rather dwarf and bushy, not ideal if you want to cut stems to bring indoors, many also have pendulous clusters of bright red berries alongside reddening winter leaves.

Two pittosporums feature purple foliage but one has green tints that let it down and another is short and dumpy. Silver ones (top right) are a better bet as many are vigorous and also respond well to having shoots cut to bring indoors.

Bronze shades always work well as they harmonise with red and contrast with whites and silvers. Some mahonias develop fiery winter tones while M. aquifolium ‘Atropurpureum’ comes in bronzed winter colouring and a bold, holly-like shape.

Most hebes, like ‘Red Edge’ (left, below), are only suitable for small table arrangements but the silvery colouring is invaluable and a the faint red margin to the leaf helps create harmony with red berries.

Elaeagnus and eucalyptus are also good for silvery colours and for background green try sarcococca, osmanthus, and trails of vinca.

It’s definitely time to complement ivy and holly with some new choices. Take a look round your own garden…

…and the Ivy

December 28th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Hedera helix 'Goldchild'

“The Ivy… is to me a lively representation of the work and power of faith,” writes Charlotte Elizabeth in her intriguing and eccentric Chapters on Flowers of 1842. “Its strength consists in the tenacity with which it clings to something foreign to its own substance; identifying itself, by a wonderful process, with what it adheres to. Alone, it cannot stand: if you tear it from its prop, down must fall every branch, at the mercy of any trampling foot of man or beast….”

“Many years ago I planted an Ivy, and watched its growth with childish interest. Having fixed its root firmly in the soil, it speedily put forth shoots; and as these grew, the short, stout fibres appeared, grasping the rough particles of an ancient wall, plunging into every little crevice, and securing themselves by a process that excited my wonder beyond any thing that I can remember, at that period of my (young) life.

“I have pulled away the young branches, endeavouring to refix them in a different position but in vain: the work of adhesion was one that human skill could not accomplish, nor human power compel. The utmost that I could do was to afford an artificial support to the detached branch, until, having continued its growth, it put out new fingers, as I called them, to take a stronger hold on its bulwark.”

Of course, she would not be aware that our contemporary walls are built with such very hard mortar that the “fingers’ cannot get a good grip and the weight of heavy rain or snow will loose them from their hold. I have never seen this happen with ivy growing in its natural habitat, on the bark of a mature tree, where the combination of the crevices and the texture of the bark which makes them up, provides an extraordinary grip. Choose a variegated variety, such as ‘Goldchild’, above, and you have captivating colour also.