Garden guide

PUBLISHED: 05:43 19 January 2015

Correa backhouseana

Correa backhouseana

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Plant specialist Keith Clouting from Taverham Nursery Centre brings you his guide to getting the best out of your garden.

Viburnum tinusViburnum tinus

With autumn behind us late flowering evergreen shrubs come to the fore, adding colour and structure to the winter garden. One of the most popular is Viburnum tinus and its varieties – a versatile shrub which grows well in sun or shade and in most soils including on chalk. Its dark green leaves provide a good foil for the clusters of white flowers which are borne over a long period from autumn to spring. These are followed by metallic blue berries which turn black with age. There are several good varieties available including V. t. Eve Price which is more compact than the species and has a pink tinge to the flowers, and V. t. variegatum which has the same pink tinged white flowers but with a creamy-yellow variegation to its leaves, making it slightly less hardy than the species and is best avoided in very cold or exposed areas. If necessary pruning can be carried out after flowering to restrict size or maintain shape. V. tinus also can also make a very effective hedge.

Another species of adaptable, easy to grow evergreen shrubs is Osmanthus hetrophyllus and its varieties. My favourite is O. h. Goshiki which has fabulous holly like leaves, mottled creamy-yellow and which have a bronze tinge when young. In late summer and autumn it produces small, white flowers which are very sweetly scented. It is quite slow growing but will eventually make a lovely medium-sized shrub and, like Viburnum tinus, it can also be grown as a hedge.

Plant of the month

Correa backhouseana

In winter this showy small-leaved evergreen shrub, native to Tasmania, bears clusters of tubular greenish-white flowers over a long period. It is not fully hardy but unlike most other Correas, which are mainly conservatory plants, it can be grown outside, preferring well drained or sandy soils and looking particularly good when trained on a sunny wall or fence where it is protected from the worst of the weather and can put on an all winter show.

Question time

I love Indian azaleas and get one every Christmas but struggle to keep them looking good. Have you any tips to help them thrive?

Azaleas dislike warm, dry atmospheres, so keep them in a cool spot in the room away from radiators and other sources of heat. Standing them in a tray of damp gravel will help increase the humidity around them. When purchased, Indian azaleas are often in small pots full of roots and are best watered and fed by placing them in a bucket for a few minutes every few days to wet them thoroughly, allowing to drain afterwards to avoid them standing in water for long periods.

Catch up with Keith

Congested clumps of rhubarb can be lifted and divided now while dormant.

Avoid moving Christmas cacti when they are coming into flower as they are prone to bud drop when moved.

Collect and destroy old fallen leaves around Roses to help prevent black spot and rust reoccurring.

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

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