Rhododendron Goldflimmer and Photinia Pink Crispy join my garden chaos
When I was younger, I hated evergreens.
I thought them dowdy, old-fashioned and laughable, probably because I grew up loving the Knights Who Say Ni! sketch in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. ‘We want… a SHRUBBERY!’
Evergreen shrubs to me brought to mind those packs of low-maintenance shrubs advertised in the Sunday Express… if you’re my age, you will know of what I speak.
However, every plant has its day. Evergreen shrubs need not be dullards of the 1970s anymore, with a huge variety of leaf shape, size colour and flowers to choose from.
Even my most hated shrub, the rhododendron, has so many good forms suitable for smaller gardens that I have bought one.
The vast forms I associate with huge gardens like Cragside and Harlow Carr have been scaled down to compact, free-flowering and dare I say it, the dark foliage rejuvenated.
Planting acid-loving rhododendrons
I chose Goldflimmer, which grows to 5ft x 5ft, with bright gold streaks on its foliage and large light purple flower clusters with yellow centres in May. It will tolerate partial shade.
It likes acid soil, so forget about it in a border if your soil is strongly alkaline and grow in a pot.
Mine is neutral, so I dug a larger than normal planting hole and filled it with ericaceous compost, raking in some slow-release acid fertiliser.
How to plant Photinia
My other buy was Photinia Pink Crispy, a change from the usual Red Robin. I’m a sucker for variegation – it has heavily marbled dark green and cream foliage with large bright pink new foliage in spring.
It’s a little bigger than the rhododendron, growing up to 6ft with a spread of just 3ft.
Photinia is tolerant of either acid or alkaline soils but they do like organic matter in the planting hole.
Long bed renovation
The newbies are part of a partial renovation of the long bed, which was last done five years ago.
Colonising Campanula carpatica and Lysimachia were cleared back and surviving Candy Mountain and Summer King foxgloves were replanted in a group. They really didn’t seem to like this cold, damp winter!