Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Wed: aaaand back to winter!

Brrr, shiver shiver, today I was working in long-sleeved tee, fleece and jacket again (oh, still in shorts, I'm not going back to longs now!) so much for summer. It started out at 11 degrees, made it up to 12 by lunchtime then back to 11 again on the way home later in the afternoon.

Still no word about the Yard, so I chased again: ho hum, these things always take time. Ah, for the happy days of informal arrangements, made with a handshake and paid in cash: now it's all Licences and Agreements and Receipts and Tax Returns.. which reminds me, the year has ended and it's time to do the tax return again, oh joy!

Well, despite the threat of rain today, and the cold wind, I managed a good solid morning of edging and weeding, and a good solid afternoon of lifting and splitting and replanting.

And now a question: "What can I plant on my trellis that doesn't shed leaves in winter"

Ah, one of those questions.  The simple answer is that everything sheds leaves in winter: if you choose something evergreen, it will simply shed it's leaves all year round, but not in such large quantities.

The usual suggestions for this question - allowing that no mention has been made of location, which way does it face, is it free-standing or against a wall, do you want flowers, what colour flowers do you like and dislike, how much soil is there below it for planting etc etc, all of which will affect the answer - would be something like Pyracantha, or Clematis Armandii:

Firstly, Pyracantha or Firethorn. It comes in a choice of red berries, orange berries or yellow berries: it can be easily and quickly trained around a trellis, it provides a screen all year and the berries are terrific for the birds.

The drawbacks? Being evergreen, it will shed some leaves all through the year, but not so many as to cause you real problems.

It is also very spiky, so you need to wear gloves when handling it. and...

... it needs a lot of pruning otherwise it will go rampant and take over, so you do have to handle it quite a lot.

Also, the more you prune it back to a framework, the more flowers and berries you will get.  One of those strange plants where what appears to be cruel behaviour - cutting it hard - will be rewarded with more flowers.

The other usual suspect for this situation is the evergreen clematis, Clematis Armandii:

It is very popular, for good reason: the flowers are magnificent, and it does more or less keep it's leaves over a mildish winter.

But there are a couple of points to consider:

Firstly, those leaves: they are leathery, and they are BIG. In a cold winter, they will be shed in large numbers, and will lie in sulky brown piles on the ground, refusing to rot.

Secondly, it's a big, vigorous climber - so you will need stout support for it.

Thirdly, it is indeed vigorous - so if there are any trees or other solid features nearby, it will make a bid for the skies and you could well be left with the less-than-glamorous stem, while someone else gets the benefit of those flowers.

But I  hope this helps! 

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