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April 2011

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Forget-me-not flowers, escallonia and a winter garden?

This is always the best time of year here at Narrow Meadow. This year I have hardly had time to look at it. For the past 6 weeks my head had been full of the business of removing shrubs and perennials devastated by winter. I am not going to dwell on the obviously dead, they are gone and I'm busy with replanting. I've decided not to replace some plants as their loss has created opportunity for renewal. Where some shrubs died I now have very nice woodland-like conditions.  Note Book Midlands

For these areas, I am looking at ground cover, as some of the spaces are quite large. I have grown plain green Brunnera macrophylla since I started gardening and while it doesn't set the garden alight, I always love its blue forget-me-not flowers. In the last few years named varieties have become available and I intend to try some of these in fairly large clumps. I rather fancy the ones where the leaves are silver and the rim and veins of the leaves are green. I'm going to try ‘Jack Frost', ‘Looking Glass', ‘Mister Morse' and ‘Silver Wings'. I will also try the following that have silver spots ‘Betty Browning', ‘Langtrees' and ‘Emerald Mist'.

It may take me a while to source all these varieties and I may not get them all, but I will persevere. I am already looking forward to these bold large leaves and the clouds of blue flowers. Brunneras are related to pulmonaria and as these thrive in my garden I am very hopeful that the brunneras will be a big success. Another blue forget-me-not type flower, I have long admired in other gardens in woodland conditions but have not tried yet, is Mertensia virginica. I have now planted it and it is settling down nicely.

We have some big decision to make. We have an escallonia hedge, damaged in 2009 and decimated in 2010. What to do? Husband seems to favour savage cutting back and hoping for the best. I have no issue with cutting back individual shrubs. In fact, we have two other escallonias that are pretty sad-looking, Escallonia bifida, with white flowers, and one grown from cuttings, that I don't have a name for, but it has stunning raspberry coloured flowers. I am hoping the savage cutting will work on these. But the hedge is a different matter.

Even if it recovers it may not all recover at the same rate and would be patchy. I want to take it out and replace it with something different. The trouble is I can't make up my mind on the replacement. I considered not replacing it at all, but when it comes out it will open up an area of rough grass that will now be visible from the house. However the area in question has a stand of twenty-five year old Betula papyrifera , I see the makings of a winter garden in my very vivid imagination. I will have to pick the right moment to suggest this. A new garden maybe - life goes on!

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