The team at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens share their gardening tips

PUBLISHED: 15:20 25 February 2014 | UPDATED: 15:20 25 February 2014




February gardening tips from the experts


Beautiful bamboos

Bamboos are generally overlooked when it comes to winter colour. We tend to go for the obvious Dogwoods (Cornus) and the Willows (Salix), but there are actually many varieties of bamboos that have incredible coloured and patterned stems that not only look superb in winter, but can provide colour and interest all year round.

The immediate thought that puts some people off, is that these plants are well known for being invasive. Indeed most varieties are strong growers, but with a little preparation and the addition, when planting, of a plastic barrier, most varieties are easily confined to a predetermined growing area.

Bamboos are the largest member of the grass family and are found in many countries around the world, from 
the tropics to the cold mountainsides of the Himalayas. The Phyllostachys species and varieties are the largest types of bamboos that can be grown in domestic gardens. They are stunning in maturity, with thick colourful stems. Phyllostachys nigra is commonly known as the ‘Black Bamboo’ and the canes are indeed a deep, shiny black colour. This species is the most challenging to grow as it requires a more sheltered site than most.

With all coloured stemmed bamboos we have found that it is beneficial to prune off lower branches to expose 3ft of cane. This way you can enjoy the best colour from your plants.

Like most grasses, bamboos can add movement and elegance to a garden. They also introduce an element of sound, as some can make a haunting and rattling tune as the breeze blows through them. Whichever variety you choose, bamboos will be sure to add some interest to your winter garden.

David Jewell - Head of Collections


Colourful combinations

It’s the time of year that for most people, everything is a little bleak and there is little colour around. It’s true, the choices you have are limited compared to the bursting kaleidoscope available in spring and summer, but there are still some fabulous plants that can be brought together to make a colourful display.

A tough, floriferous member of the Buttercup family, Hepatica nobilis, comes in white, pink and blue. These stunning, clump forming perennials are full of flower and appear quite delicate, but this tough alpine really brightens up the bare ground at this time of year.

Some people love the combination of blues and whites and the dwarf, double snowdrop Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’ is good for this purpose. However, there are other dwarf bulbs flowering at this time of year that also mix well. Try various colours of Iris reticulata, which comes in blue, purple, white and yellow. This ground flora can be highlighted further by using it as an under planting for a tree or shrub with textured or coloured bark.

Barry Clarke - Propagator and Nursery Manager

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