Thinking Ahead 2013

This cold snap may have stopped the spring bulbs in their tracks for now, but I’m sure you keen gardeners with greenhouses, sheds or even a kitchen work top will keep busy working and planning towards the next season.

If you’re feeling the cold and looking for some inspiration here are a few plants to look forward to this year. Hebes are always a popular little plant and particularly good for filling containers or borders with low growing plants. A new introduction reminds me of my favourite pudding ‘Rhubarb and Custard’. This hebe has a rounded habit, typical hebe leaves, but with a lovely variegation of cream, pink and green. The leaf margins are cream with the outer edge pink and will produce pretty lilac flowers in June and July. It’s going to be a real eye catcher and has disease resistance to mildew and leaf spot. I imagine it will be a good contrasting plant to other low growing shrubs in a border or make a good container plant.

I have a couple of varieties of bergenias in my garden; they make really good low ground covering plants. One that has caught my attention is called Bergenia ‘Lunar Glow’; it’s the most colourful bergenia I’ve seen. The juvenile shiny evergreen foliage emerges creamy yellow in spring, gradually maturing to yellow-green in summer followed by a blush deep red from autumn onwards. The dark pink flowers that appear in spring really stand out against that yellow foliage. It will look great in flower beds, borders or even a container.

If your garden doesn’t include flowers how about the architectural plant Astelia nivicola ‘Red Devil’. This form has neat and attractive burgundy-red arching, sword-like leaves that become darker in colder weather. It needs moist, but well-drained soils in sun or partial shade and would look great in a container or part of a planting scheme.

How about a real taste of summer? If you like growing your own then this everbearer strawberry called ‘Buddy’ is a must. It flowers from April to September and produces a big crop of long-lasting delicious strawberries from June till October. It’s hardy and is already showing good disease resistance.