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Garden guide

PUBLISHED: 05:21 01 December 2014

Sorbus Joseph Rock

Sorbus Joseph Rock

Archant © 2012

This autumn has been one of the best seasons for fruit and nuts that I can remember.

Malus x robusta Red SentinelMalus x robusta Red Sentinel

This autumn has been one of the best seasons for fruit and nuts that I can remember. Among the plants that have been looking spectacular are the Sorbus, which are magnificent small trees. Probably the best known is Sorbus aucuparia (mountain ash) it bears white flowers in the spring followed by bright red berries in the autumn which are much loved by birds. There is also an upright variety of this tree S.a. Fastigiata which is particularly good where space is limited.

Another good choice for a small garden is S. Vilmorinii, which has fern-like leaves that colour up well in the autumn complementing well the rosy-pink berries which fade to almost white with age. S. Joseph Rock also has good autumn leaf colour, its berries being pale yellow at first deepening to amber-yellow as they age.

These are just a few of the many good varieties, the selections above are easily grown in most good garden soils but dislike drought and can be short-lived on chalky soils.

Another good shrub or small tree bearing fruit now is Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree) which has glossy, dark, evergreen leaves and a lovely deep brown, shedding bark. It bears white urn-shaped flowers in autumn at the same time as the strawberry-like red fruits from the previous year’s flowers are ripening; there is also a variety A.u.rubra which has pink flushed flowers. They prefer a sunny position but will grow in any reasonable garden soil including those containing chalk.

Plant of the month

Malus X Robusta Red Sentinel

This is one of the most ornamental crab apples; its white flowers in spring are followed by large clusters of striking deep red fruit which persist well into the winter giving interest over a long period. A magnificent tree for any garden and with its upright habit and pollution tolerance it’s a particularly good choice for small urban gardens.

Question time

I would like to plant a native hedge for wildlife. Which plants would be suitable?

A good native hedge is perfect for attracting wildlife into the garden; providing shelter, nesting sites and food. Good species to plant include hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) which provides nectar and berries, as does holly (Ilex aquifolium) and elder (Sambucus nigra), while hazel (Corylus avellana) would provide nuts for small mammals. If you would like a few climbers growing through the hedge, honeysuckle (lonicera periclymenum) provides summer nectar and berries, ivy (Hedera helix) - although it can be invasive - provides food and shelter for many species.

Catch up with Keith

Check stored fruit and vegetables for disease to prevent any infection spreading.

Climbers and wall shrubs should be tied to their supports to prevent wind damage.

Check bonfires for sheltering or hibernating wildlife before lighting.

Prune blackberry canes which have fruited this year down to ground level and tie in new ones that have grown from the base.

Taverham Nursery Centre, Fir Covert Road, Norwich, NR9 6HT; 01603 860522; www.taverhamnursery.co.uk

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