Embracing Evergreens

One of the things I love about Instagram is the ability to be able to look back through my pictures and see what my garden looked like in previous years. While Spring and Summer is when the garden really bursts into activity, I love the slow decline and the stillness that Autumn and Winter brings. 

Structural plants really come into their own throughout the Winter months, and I believe them to be an absolute must-have in the garden. They are such a welcome sight and bring that ‘backbone’ to a garden. I have a number of evergreens in my garden and have purposely spaced them as evenly as possible, to help create a balanced look. I thought it would be useful to share what I have in mine and where I have them, before they become less prominent, as all the Spring and Summer flowers start to bloom over the next couple of weeks. Also, Spring is a great time to plant evergreens, so I’m hoping to inspire you to plant some of my favourites.

Bamboo

We were very lucky to inherit a mature bamboo. It’s a great evergreen and works in all types of garden styles. One of the great uses of bamboo, is to use it to screen off an area or create privacy. Ours has been used to camouflage a neighbouring property and gets taller each year!! In terms of care, they do best in a sunny spot and need a lot of watering throughout the Spring and Summer months.  They also require a high level of nitrogen in the spring and a balanced fertiliser through the rest of the growing season until late August.

Bay

I’ve got quite a few bay trees scattered around our garden and also a low bay hedge. Not only does it look nice but you can also snip off the leaves and use it for cooking. In terms of growing, it likes a sunny, sheltered spot with well-drained soil. It will grow well in pots but will give you warning signs when its grown too big for the pot! One to look out for. If you need to tidy the shape up, then prune in the Spring/Summer months. I prune mine in May and then again in August.

Box

Most probably one of my favourite evergreen plants. It’s fresh, easily clipped into shapes and can also be used for hedging. I have topiary balls and hedging in my garden and this is what forms the backbone of my garden. However, one thing to be mindful of is box blight and box tree caterpillar, both of which can weaken and kill the plants. To help prevent it’s wise to treat and feed. I use the following:

The great thing about Box is that it’s tolerant of a wide range of soil types, provided there is adequate drainage and it doesn’t dry out completely. You can however, plant it in sun or shade, making it a great go-to evergreen.

In terms of pruning, I tend to give mine a very prune and shape in May, once the risk of frost has gone and then a good tidy in August so it’s neat over the Winter months. If you need to really tidy up your Box then I would recommend doing a hard prune in late Spring. 

Lavender

Definitely one of my favourites and I have a border edge lined with lavender, sitting just in front of the topiary hedging. You can also grow them in pots if you are short of space. They are pretty hardy, being incredibly drought tolerant. However, they do need a sunny spot to thrive and should be planted in well-drained soil. Cut back after flowering in order to keep their shape over the winter period. I love lavender so much I even dedicated a previous blog, soley to it. Click here to have a read. Oh, and one of the most special things about Lavender is that Bees absolutely adore them – for that reason alone I will be planting more this year.

The Gorgeous Olive Tree

Again, another fabulous evergreen that grows surprisingly well, considering its a Mediterranean tree. However, you need to choose the sunniest and most sheltered spot available – a south-facing spot with a brick wall behind it is ideal. You will need to keep them protected in the winter as they do not cope well in the cold! I leave mine in a sheltered spot, protecting it from frost and then come the Spring, when the risk of frost has gone, I pop it in its position.

If needed, in late spring or early summer, I’ll remove any dead, diseased or dying branches. At the same time, I’ll also thin out branches to allow light into the centre of the tree and remove any branches that spoil the shape – go steady though, they do not like a hard prune. Container-grown plants may need additional summer pruning to keep their size in check. 

I could go on and on and I haven’t even got on to grasses but I’m hoping this start inspires you to embrace the evergreens!!

With love and stay safe, Flowers and Lifestyle by Margot – 

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