Garden Blog | December
There’s quite a bit of work goes into creating this seasonal show, but it’s certainly worth the effort. Firstly, we take two wire hanging basket frames filled with foam floral block bricks, and attach them to each other with wire twists to form a sphere. Into this frame we insert evergreen foliage, creating a dense base to highlight the colourful stems and berries that are added later. It’s important to pack the evergreen foliage tightly in, ensuring that the wire frame below is totally masked. This year we have used aromatic bay as the evergreen base, but others such as yew, holly, or box, will do the job just as nicely. The final stage of construction is the addition of decoration. Our Christmas balls this year have yellow stemmed dogwood, and bright orange seedpods of stinking iris, Iris foetidus. If creating your own display, this is where you can let your imagination and personal taste take you wherever you wish. In the past we have added, amongst other things, dried Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ flowers, twisted hazel stems, rose hips, catkins from Garrya eliptica, cotoneaster berries, and red dogwood stems…the options are endless. The final touch to our Christmas balls is a sprig of mistletoe, collected from a venerable apple tree in the grounds here at Deene Park.
In the garden itself, we are moving ahead with the new Rose Garden. Having lifted turf to highlight where paths are to go, contractors have excavated them, edged them with flexible steel path edging, and filled with a compacted hardcore sub-base. In the coming days we will lift turf where rose beds are to go, and plant out with roses presently heeled-in in the Old kitchen Garden after being delivered a couple of days ago. In the New Year, the paths will be topped with tarmac and a bonded gravel surface, and the beds will be edged with lavender and filled with herbaceous perennials.
Finally, flowering away in the garden here at Deene Park today is a fine example of iris. Renown for early summer displays of richly scented blooms in a multitude of colours, iris is not generally thought of as offering much to the garden in winter…Iris unguicularis is the exception to the rule. This compact Iris, growing to thirty centimetres tall; has coarse grass-like evergreen leaves; and produces scented, bright lilac purple flowers with rather lovely markings, throughout winter into early spring. Although Iris unguicularis is native to Greece, Turkey, Syria, and parts of North Africa, it’s perfectly hardy in Britain, and certainly makes a bit of a talking point in the winter garden.