Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

December 2014

This months News



Garden Club

On our regular third Thursday of the month at 7.30pm, December saw the Oxhill Garden Club entertained by Vic Aspland with his presentation ‘ The Brighter Side of Winter’.  The talk started with beautiful pictures of autumn foliage and then moved on to the bright berries of trees and shrubs that had, by then, lost their leaves.  November led into the month of December and we were treated not only to pictures of ‘spring’ bulbs in bloom but also, much more surprisingly, to shrubs in full flower.

We were told that although the majority of bulbs are sold in the dry state in late summer and autumn, there are many that are better bought in growth; these include snowdrops (Galanthus), Winter Aconites (Eranthis) and Cyclamen.  The more hardy species of the latter can be helped in colder areas by planting in the dryer conditions at the base of trees; the flowers of Cyclamen coum, too, are unaffected by frost or snow!  As with some other small bulbs, the tiny bean shaped seeds of the yellow flowering miniature Narcissus cyclamineus are taken underground by ants as a food store, part eaten but later still able to grow and develop into new plants.  Given the right conditions, most bulbs will increase naturally over the years to give increasing visual value.

We were shown photographs of a wide variety of shrubs (often in Vic’s neighbours’ front gardens!) that naturally flower in winter – a period technically from 21st December to 20th March the following year.  Many plants can actually survive ‘experiences’ that books tell you they can’t.  A story was told of a Daphne mesereum, burned by a bonfire and ‘retrieved’ from a garden next door by Vic’s dad, surviving for many years thereafter. Fatsia, often regarded as an ‘indoor’ plant, is in fact quite hardy and can be put outside at the back of a border where it will flower. Varieties of Berberis are nearly always colourful in flower, leaf and berry; certain of them can be pruned hard whilst others can be allowed to spread and are valuable for their spines that deter wildlife of the human variety.

Dutch commercial nurseries are likely to grow shrubs in a peat based compost; we were advised to tease out roots (an old kitchen fork is good) when planting to improve their chance of survival in subsequent drought conditions.  Hellebores are very much part and parcel of gardens in Oxhill, and many in the audience were pleased to see slides of a variety of these with their different colourings and forms - often enhanced by the judicious removal of tired foliage.

Vic Aspland gave a talk that truly entertained and brought to our attention many flowering plants that can brighten up our gardens and our lives. Keep your eyes open during the next few months for that surprising splash of colour in a neighbour’s garden.  Plan a visit to a good nursery during 2015 and plant something that will give you a lift on a dark winter’s day.

The next event on the Garden Club’s calendar is the members’ Christmas Party at 7pm on Wednesday 10th December at the Old Chapel.  Names, in good time please, to Sue Hunt  Tel.680419.

Douglas Nethercleft

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Last modified: December 05, 2014