I am joining in with Christina @ “My Hesperides Garden” for a celebration of all things leafy today, and because some of thoses leaves are edible, and because I have set myself to join VegPlotting’s 52 Week Salad Challenge, I am also linking in to her meme – though you will have to wait to the end for the edibles bit…

So, foliage. I am a little obsessed by foliage at the moment. In thinking about plats I want to grow, borders I want to establish, in front and back, I have learned that I need to spend at least as much time thinking about how the different leaf forms will go together and the role foliage can play as I do worrying about combining flower colour and form. Combine that with the fact that this is a new garden, and I am still learning what grows well here and what is already here, growing, and I spend a lot of time apparently peering at the ground. It must be very confusing for my neighbour, who is already confused by the fact that I have a greenhouse and it isn’t crammed with flowers!

In the back garden I have a cluster of 9cm pots with Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae.

euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae

I love this plant. It romps away in shade, full or partial, happy on dry soil, wet soil, light soil, heavy soil. And it spreads. Not so much that it becomes a real pain, but enough to mean that my three 9cm pots will soon supply all my needs. I plan to plant these around the base of a hazel in the back of the back garden, to give lovely textured evergreen foliage, help hide the daffodil foliage when it goes over, and provide that little injection of acid green colour when they flower.

I was really happy to see these leaves emerging from a clump of Viola odorata the other day:

euphorbia amygdaloides purp

Euphorbia amygdaloides purpurea, with beautiful red foliage. I never had much luck with this plant in my old garden, I think the soil was too heavy. It is supposed to be evergreen, like its cousin, but these seem to be less than happy. I think they are crowded out by the viola, so I am hopeful that hey will thrive once I get the are a little more decongested.

I can’t talk about foliage without mentioning Bear’s Breaches (Acanthus mollis). It was one of the first plants I noticed in the back garden when we were first nosing around, waiting for the estate agent.

acanthus mollis

Another plant I had sort-of grown in my old garden, but never in such huge clumps. It appears to be fully evergreen here, and the wonderfully architectural foliage is a very welcome sight, even without the huge flower spikes that linger on adding interest when dried – until the flop over and go all black that is… There is a second small patch now emerging in the very back corner of the garden, now that the leylandii are out of the picture – and therefore no longer drying out the ground. Though given the recent puddling maybe there was a good reason for growing conifers in that corner, and not just for screening! There is a huge clump growing in the much lighter soil of the front garden, in full sun. I will be attempting to remove this, though I suspect it will be a little like trying remove the native crocosmia, it will keep re-emerging. I will put some more in the back garden, to make three clumps rather than two (I always find just two of something visually distracting), and give some to a neghbour. There will be the added bonus of better screening from our neighbours too.

I am going to include stems as well as foliage, since they are clearly not flowers (!) and add so much to the garden, particularly in winter. I bought a trio of dogwoods. They should be very happy in the wet soil at the back of the garden, and will catch the low morning sun in late autumn and winter. I bought them small – very small, only 9cm pots – so they don’t exactly have much impact yet, but I am excited about the colour they will add given time. Plus there will be white blossom, which is always welcome.

cornus sanguinea midwinter
Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’

cornus alba sibirica
Cornus alba sibirica

cornus sericea Flaviramea
Cornus sericea ‘ Flaviramea’

The green stemmed dogwood won’t catch the sun in quite the same way, though it will get some later in the day, but I put it in to pick up the colour of the bamboo over to its left and the rather wonderful Griselinia littoralis, which is another new plant to me.

grisselina littoralis

I love the colour of this evergreen, and the slight wave in the leaves.

Since I always think context is important, I’d better give you some – the newly edged “Park Border”, which sounds rather grand but is just the border that runs down the boundary with the park next door.

park border

This runs down the side of the Kitchen Garden, and although I will be adding more ornamentals, I also plant to plant fruit and nectar-rich annuals and perennials here. Come mid March this whole border will be in sun for most of the day, all except the area around the acer, which is where the dogwoods are and the euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae will be. Many, many bulbs needed, and other woodland lovers, including native primroses. I am also contemplating growing wild garlic there. We love the smell, and the leaves are so very tasty when young – does anyone have any experience of growing it in a garden setting? I know it can be a little “robust”, will I regret it? Will it take over completely?

And while I am asking questions, please can someone tell me what this is?

mystery umbellifer

The leaves are rather wonderful, and I am guessing it is some sort of umbellifer, but I need to know how invasive it is and therefore how worried I should be about the large clumps of it that are shooting up all over the garden…

On a happier note, I finally have a plant that I have been coveting for years, but could never justify in my old garden as it would almost certainly have died. The wonderfully arhcitectural Euphorbia mellifera.

euhporbia mellifera

Such beautiful foliage, I have planted this in the front garden, in the back corner of the fence border. The plan is that together with a Fatsia japonica it will provide an evergreen full stop to this border and screen the utility area behind, and also disguise the drain cover I unearthed before Christmas. The fatsia is currently looking a little sad though.

fatsia japonica

The leaves had this slightly worrying yellow tinge to them when it arrived,and at the time I put it down to a couple of days couped up in cardboard, but several weeks on, with sun and feed, it still looks like it is in need of something it isn’t getting. I’m not too worried, they are tough plants and with a little tlc I am sure it will recover, but it is a shame.

Other plants that are delighting me in the front garden because of their foliage are a holly and a myrtle.

myrtle

I’ve never really seen myrtle before, but I love the contrast of the tiny dark green leaves and the slightly bronze stems. It also clearly self seeds happily. There are three good size seedlings by the pond, and smaller ones elsewhere, ready to be potted up and perhaps used in a myrtle hedge.

The holly is a slightly funny story, in that this is supposed to be a variegated plant. When we got here I notices that it had been rather brutally pruned, and that the new growth sprouting from the base was plain dark green.

holly

I removed the variegated growth, hoping the more vigorous plain foliage would take over, and in just four months it has become a rather handsome dark green shrub, providing much needed structure in a border otherwise full of deciduous plants.

In contrast to the solid forms of the myrtle and the holly, there are grasses. I love the way the massed low growing clumps of Stipa tenuissima and a carex that I have yet to identify dance in the wind, rippling like the waves in the sea beyond.

stipa tenuissima
Stipa tenuissima in the circle bed
unknown carex
Unknown carex in the gravel by the pond

Definitely something I want more of in the front garden. More stipa will not be a problem, it clearly self-seeds very happily here, and I think I am going to grow more Carex flagillifera, it comes really easily from seed and the deep brown is a perfect colour for the surrounding landscape. It will go well with the blues, pale yellows and burnt oranges that I plan to use in the front garden, and again will provide that ripple of movement I so enjoy. And having complained at the apparent lack of bulbs in the gravel area at the front of the garden, I have to eat my words, because here is some intriguing foliage peeping up to say ‘hello’.

mystery bulbs

OK, enough of all these ornamentals, what about growing salads through the year? The half circle bed I blogged about last time is much denuded. I have used most of the golden pak choi, the rocket and mustard are growing too slowly to yield more than about four sandwiches worth a week, and although I have seedlings growing away in the conservatory, it will be a while before any of it is edible.

pak choi rubra
Pak Choi ‘Rubra’ in the greenhouse
spring onion lisbon
Spring onion ‘Lisbon’ in the greenhouse
Coriander 'Calypso'
Coriander ‘Calypso’ in the conservatory
mustard and mibuna
mustard and mibuna in the conservatory

I have bought but not yet sown dried peas for pea shoots, but thanks to VP’s experiments at least I know that I might as well try them without the propagator, leaving more room in there for tomatoes etc.. But there are two other edible that, while not strictly salad related, I am very excited about, albeit for very different reasons.

lemongrass

Lemongrass! I’ve tried growing it from seed before and totally failed, but this time I actually have healthy little seedlings with true leaves appearing, ready to prick out into plugs. I love to cook with lemongrass, and if I can get some pots of this growing I can bring it in to the conservatory or greenhouse over winter and never have to buy those hideously expensive little plastic packets again. Or that’s the dream…

broad bean Witkeim Manita

The first broad beans are in the cold frame hardening off. These are ‘Witkeim Manita’, and I will be sowing some more over the weekend. No sign of germination from ‘Claudia’ as yet, maybe the seed is too old, not sure, but we can never have to many home grown broad beans.

I thoroughly recommend visits to My Hesperides Garden for more celebrations of foliage, and to Veg Plotting for more about growing salad through the year. I’m off to stroke my lemongrass seedlings and daydream about all the wonderful meals I can use them in.

55 thoughts on “Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day February 2013 with some salad chat thrown in

  1. I’ve tried digging up acanthus and had it reappear from where I thought I had totally removed it.

    As for fatsia it really is tough I have cut them down to almost ground level and had them regrow. Old leaves do tend to look sorry and them drop off leaving a sort of stem – which is why we used to chop ours back every so often. I say used to as it outgrew its welcome.

    1. Hi Sue, in the past couple of years the leaves of the acanthus I planted in our old garden about 8 years ago started emerging again, I think they liked all the soil improvement… I think the thing with the fatsia is that I bought another one, about the same size, from somewhere else, and it arrived all dark green and in perfect health and has remained so. They are wonderfully tough plants though, and do respond very well to a good hack about. Always a welcome characteristic!

  2. Some lovely foliage plants you have there already! Well done on finally getting a Euphorbia mellifera, we love this plant, for both its foliage and form!

    1. The shape is one of the things that has always attracted me to the euphorbia, and it doesn’t surprise me to hear that you are fans!

  3. Hi i’ve just found your blog. I grow winter salads in my polytunnel at my allotment and they grow well there. Before I had a polytunnel I used to just grow them under a cold frame and they were just as good. You can see them here (approx half way down the page): http://notjustgreenfingers.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/the-start-of-a-new-gardening-year/
    the green lettuce is especially brilliant as you can pick a few leaves from it all over the winter and then it puts a spurt of growth on at this time of year…the variety is ‘Arctic King’. I also Mizuna which has grown well over winter too…the winter varieties are good when nothing else is growing.

    1. Hi thanks for popping by and commenting! I love mizuna, mibuna too, and am growing to love Tsoi (bother can’t remember). Your polytunnel looks excellent, some lovely healthy plants growing away in it. I was lucky enough to inherit a second greenhouse when we moved here, so one of my projects for the next few weeks is to use offcuts from building the new fence to build raised beds in my smaller greenhouse so that I can grow salads etc all year round as well as put the tomatoes and basil in the ground.

  4. Hi Janet

    My Fatsia leaves also went yellow like this and then eventually dropped off. This all happened on the lower end of the plant. I e-mailed the RHS advice service about this and they said that the lower leaves often die naturally of old age. The other thing is that they are not extremely hardy although mine shrinks and looks more like cooked spinach if it has had a cold night.

    I think this can also be a deficiency but can’t remember what.

    The disadvantage to the Fatsia doing this is that all the lower leaves are going and it is creating a tree type of shape rather than a shrub.

    Claire

    1. Hi Claire, I’ve had leaves drop off where I used to live, which was much colder, but I don’t really expect that to happen here, there are lots of fatsia thriving all around the village, often in far more exposed conditions, along with plenty of other frost hardy plants – hence my euphorbia mellifera indulgence. I am going with a deficiency of some sort, and have given it a good all round feed. Guess I will just keep an eye on it. I think you might find that if you cut your fatsia back quite hard in the Spring when it shows signs of new growth that it will re-sprout from the base, mine always did, then you can avoid fatsia tree syndrome…

  5. I am still waiting for my Acanthus spinosus to really find its feet; it has sat sulking for eighteen months now – hopefully this year it will really get going and produce some lovely big leaves.
    You do have lots of different foliage already, and I’m impressed by all your young crops in the greenhouse. I have still been biding my time so far, but must get sowing this weekend, I think. My fingers are itching!
    The myrtle looks lovely; and those lovely glossy leaves that are appearing almost remind me of angelica, but are not quite right. Perhaps Alexanders, Smyrnium olusatrum? That could be rather lovely, with a watchful eye on their spread…

    1. Oh, well high time for your acanthus spinosa to buck its ideas up and perform! I adore the myrtle, and apparently the birds love it too, one of my gardening neighbours has one and says she often finds bird-sown seedlings knocking around from where they have devoured the berries. And I think you might be right about that being Alexanders, which is great, I love umbellifers, and this one is edible! Stems, leaves, flowers, seeds – according to http://www.pfaf.org the whole lot is edible! Hope you are right, I wouldn’t in the least mind patches of that seeding around the garden. (She says hoping this isn’t famous last words due to thuggish nature)

  6. Hi Janet,

    Lots of foliage for you :) and good idea re: Holly. Plain is much better than variegated!

    Still haven’t sown any plants yet; doesn’t seem worthwhile if it just keeps turning cold and I won’t be getting out into the garden for a good while yet. Do you plan on any Lavender? Not sure why I asked tbh, just a question :)

    1. It turned very cold again today, there was even a slight flurry of snow while I was wrestling with a climbing rose planted in the middle of the fence line. This early sowing lark is new to me, I wouldn’t normally get going until early March, and even then, only tomatoes and chillies. Only time will tell whether it is going to prove worthwhile. As to lavender, I keep umming and ahing. I find nepeta easier to look after but lavender does have that lovely silvery foliage. And the smell is divine. I think it depends which lavender-coloured (!) plants I go for in the end, I don’t want too many, but I fancy trying sea lavender, and teucrim, and perovskia, and don’t want may different types of plants. But I do have some seed, and there is always the back garden…

      1. Hi,

        I think normally I would’ve sown my Cosmos and Toms by now so I’m probably a little behind… After last year though I’ve lost interest in trying! Lol… I can’t let one poor year put me off! I know I’ll miss the Cosmos and Toms if I don’t; even if I do want to move. That’s the next thing… I want to move, but the thought of it scares me. Eeeeek. Do I really want to put myself through this??!
        Anyway, back to the Lavender; I think it is worthwhile, especially in the kitchen garden (which is where I’d pictured them). Do you get many cats around you? If so I’d stay away from the Nepeta, although Russian sage is lovely – keepy meaning to get some here, too.

        1. Yes, maybe in the herb bed with the rosemary and thyme, pretty, lovely smells, mmmm… I know exactly what you mean about the moving thing. I spent 4 years wanting to move before getting close to it actually happening, all the while being worried about how it would go, where we would go, did I want the hassle etc. It made it hard to actually live where I was, and there are plants that have been in pots for four years now that will probably deafen the neighborhood with their cheering when they finally go in the ground! My experience is that taking time to nurture and grow helped calm me and give me focus, but it is a tough situation to be in. Mind you, look where we ended up – so very, very lucky. I hope things work out for you too.

  7. I think confusing the neighbors is what gardeners do best. It’s almost reality-TV show material — “Gardeners and the Neighbors Who Wonder at Them”… How wonderful to have a place to overwinter lemongrass. The stuff at the store is never inspiring and the dried is…dry. What kinds of things do you make with it?

    1. I think you are right Stacy, and some of my neghbours are keen gardeners themselves, so their puzzling is the type that says “what on earth is she doing getting rid of X”, or “I’d never plant Y there”. I cook lots of Thai and Vietnamese dishes that use lemongrass, the aptly named “pork with lemongrass” being a firm favourite.

  8. Ah, I love the Bear’s Breeches, too! No wonder you are excited about your foliage–you have a stunning collection…and some of it is at its peak!

    1. It is a wonderful plant, isn’t it – and not just because of the name, which always makes me smile.

  9. So many wonderful plants going on in this post. Very jealous of the numerous euphorbias you have collected there. This garden is just full of surprises isn’t it. The greenhouse with little seedlings really turns my ears green though, what I wouldn’t give for a little spot like that.

    1. Hi Marguerite, I love euphorbias, such useful plants. I was going to suggest a polytunnel, you have the room, but with your annual snowfall the roof might not take it…

  10. Such a lot of super foliage, have you noticed the bark on the trunk of the Myrtle. We have one here and when I removed the lower branches to plant bulbs underneath, we found wonderful white and tan bark. Acanthus mollis has now settled in and is spreading rapidly, we will have some chopping to do to curb its enthusiasm! Euphorbia mellifera is a wonderful shrub, such interesting foliage and the honey perfume from the flowers later in the year, floats about the garden, you can smell it 100ft away with the wind in the right direction!
    You are well ahead of me with your seedlings, I am waiting for it to warm up a bit more as I don’t want them inside longer than necessary.

    1. Hi Pauline, my myrtle is more small shrub than tree so no, I haven’t seen the bark, sounds lovely though. I am really looking forward to the scent of the mellifera floating out on the breeze. I am very lucky to have so much space under cover for seedlings, though I have never before found myself needing to pot things on in February, it feels a little odd!

  11. Thanks for joining in GBFD Janet. What an interesting post – you have so much happening in the garden. Interesting too, that you wrote about Acanthus mollis. Regarding the salads, when did you sow your red pak choi?, and when will you plant it out? I prinked out some of the seeds I’d grown but as more germinated than I expected I put the rest straight in the ground, I’m not sure if they’ll survive! Christina

    1. Hi Christina, funny us both writing about acanthus! I sowed my red pak choi along with the yellow back last September, and it just sat there for months in the unheated greenhouse until suddenly it burst into life in early January. The golden pak choi germinated far more quickly and is now happily growing away under fleece in the kitchen garden. Maybe a little fleece would do the trick for yours too?

      1. I’m very nervous about using fleece as the garden is so windy, I imagine it blowing around the garden causing damage to other plants. For the same reason I don’t have cloches. C

        1. My allotment plot was very windy, I used good quality plastic tent pegs to hold the fleece – and netting – down and had no problems. Not too ugly either if the frame you support the fleece on is attractive, or you can just lie the fleece on the plants if no frost is forecast. This garden can get very windy too when it is in the right (or rather, wrong) direction, I have to peg my coldframes down or anchor them with bricks!

          1. This afternoon the wind was so strong it threw the swinging seat onto the drive, knocking it over and you’d think the wind would pass through all the spaces in it, even the actual seat is a material that has holes (to keep you cool and comfortable in summer – ha ha) Christina

  12. Now I’ve just read about your plans for your plants, I’m looking forward to seeing photographs of them all established. I can imagine you’ll be pleased to see those plants, that struggled in your old garden, do well in your new one. I grow wild garlic (we love it), but I must admit it is contained in its own small bed. I think it can be quite invasive.

    1. Hi Wendy, I have a wilder corner of garden, maybe I will plant the wild garlic there, so that it can romp around without swamping more delicate plants. Good to hear others love it too, and the smell is so wonderful.

  13. Janet, really enjoyed this informative post. You have so many interesting plants for a new garden. I like your euphorbia–just started growing Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ last year. susie

    1. Thank you Susie, I do feel I have been lucky with this garden, some beautiful plants already here. I just spotted ‘Blackbird’ on your blog, it looks lovely, I have made a note…

  14. I really enjoyed reading this post, Janet – lots of info about your foliage and thoughts on different things.Your enthusiasm about euphorbia is tempting me to reconsider it here – I had several different plants until a few years ago but got fed up with them seeding themselves about so I pulled them all out, but I still occasionally find new seedlings! I planted wild garlic in our little bit of woodland but will monitor its progress – it is fairly easy to pull out any tiny new bulblets I don’t want, so I think it can be successfully contained when you introduce it yourself. I am very impressed with all your salad seedlings!

    1. Hi Cathy, glad you enjoyed the leaves! Self-seeding is funny, isn’t it, sometimes a boon and at others a real pain. Thanks for the encouragement about the garlic, I do really love the leaves in a salad or with an omelet, and the smell is divine.

  15. What a lovely selection of foliage plants and I can’t believe that you’ve got lots of acanthus. I tried years ago to grow it but it never managed to become established. I let my red euphorbia seed all over the garden too as I just love the contrast between the lime sulfurous flowers with it’s burgundy foliage.

    It was so good to see your border in context – I forget so often to place a photo like that in my posts.

    1. HI Rosie, acanthus never established itself in my old garden, so I was thrilled to see it here. Not so thrilled to see it growing where it blocks a view of the sea, since it is nigh on impossible to remove completely… I’m hoping the red euphorbia will self seed around my garden too once I rescue it from the clutches of the viola.

  16. Great post! Lots of updates!! I particularly liked seeing your photos and updates on the salads. I’m really keen to start growing pak choi. Looks like it could grow all year round?

    1. Hi Anna, thanks, I am hoping to grow early lettuce on in the greenhouse, assuming I can get organised. Pak Choi seems to have survived outside over winter here, though it did bolt – good job the flower stalks are tasty in stir fry too! Mind you, we are in a maritime climate, so it may depend on where you are gardening, I don’t think I would have got away with it up at my old allotment site, which was in South Gloucestershire and very exposed.

  17. Love all the Euphorbias you have. The voles don’t eat the roots of Euphorbia, so I need to have more!! Rotten critters.
    You will be eating quite well through the spring and summer with your salad greens and beans…wow.

    1. Euphorbias sound like the ideal plant for you Janet! I can see a group of Euphorbia mellifera looking beautiful with your other shrubs.

  18. Janet where to start….you have so much in the veg garden to stroke and keep happy. I will just be getting started next weekend as much of what I plant is sown outside come early to mid April. So much foliage to still have going. Those dogwoods will grow fast and before you know it you will be talking of trimming them up. Are those grape hyacinths/muscari growing in the gravel?

    1. Hi Donna, I find I get useless results when I sow direct outside, so even once the weather warms up I will be sowing in the greenhouse, in modules. You may be right about muscari in the gravel, it will be interesting to see! I am looking forward to being able to take hardwood cuttings of the dogwoods in years to come.

  19. I hope your fatsia will be OK. It’s such a wonderful plant! I have three of them, and they are my favorites. Sometimes, I notice a bit of yellow on them, but usually it doesn’t last long. The best of my fatsia plants is located near the house wall and has dappled shade. It’s always dark green. The least bushy plant has more sun and is not protected by walls. This one has yellowish leaves once in a while.
    Nice post! Thank you!

    1. Hi Tatyana, thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I’m sure the fatsia will be fine, they are such tough plants, and it is in a location it should enjoy, with good deep soil and shelter from fence and house.

  20. A most enjoyable read, and some great photos.
    I have a dogwood alba on the plot which self-seeded and is growing in a good place. There’s a surprising amount of colour to be seen on foliage isn’t there. Flighty xx

    1. Hi Flighty, I think dogwoods are wonderful plants, and the insects love the blossom, so a great shrub to have growing up at the allotment. And yes, I think foliage is every bit as important as flowers, possibly more so as if you choose well you get interest from colour and texture all year round.

  21. It’s exciting to read about your ponderings and purchases for the garden to come. I have a dogwood hedge in the front garden which really comes into its own during the winter offset with snowdrops and a Himalayan birch. Such a humble shrub during the summer, but worth its weight in gold right now.

    You have lots of exciting seedlings coming along – enough salad for 4 sandwiches per week isn’t to be sniffed at this time of year either. I hope you do well with your lemongrass, sadly I don’t have a greenhouse so I’ve never managed to overwinter it yet.

    1. Your dogwood hedge sounds rather wonderful VP, particularly with snowdrops underneath. I am very excited about plant buying, though I keep having to remind myself that I have time on my side, I don’t actually have to fill every available border instantly, and in fact that would be a mistake! I’ve never yet had good results from rushing such things. Thanks for the salad encouragement, and you are right, it is four sandwiches more than I have ever had salad for before, which is what it is all about. I pricked out the lemongrass into plugs the other day, and am giving them almost obsessive attention…

  22. All these greens were a real treat for weary winter eyes, Janet – especially liked the Euphorbia mellifera though the Griselina comes a close second. Had not realised that in our milder micro-climates the bears do not loose their breeches and so the bulbs I planted (in my neighbour’s garden) alongside some Hellebores are well hidden :(
    p.s. your salad leaf seedlings look snug in the greenhouse – wondering when the weather will be warm enough to transplant them?

    1. You have excellent taste in foliage Laura! Griselina is a wonderful plant to have discovered. I sympathise with your hidden bulbs – I noticed the other day that there were several largish clumps of bulbs struggling in the undergrowth around my fully breached bears too, and behind the griselina. Some bulb transplantation required I think! As to salad transplantation, I’m not sure, I think I am going to try and warm the soil on one of the raised beds by putting fleece down, and then give it a go at the beginning of March. Ooops, that’s next week…

    1. Hi Catherine, no, actually you are the first to suggest that – but I’m not sure the leaves are quite pointy enough?

  23. Wow, amazing post Janet! You seem to have achieved so much, it’s been brilliant to catch up with your garden. Cornus and euphorbia are two of my favourite plants. I’ve been wowed by the cornus both at Capel (college) and during a recent visit to Cambridge Uni Botanic Gardens where I discovered Cornus alba ‘Kesselringii’, a cornus with such dark aubergine stems that it seemed black – definitely one for the wish list!
    Just a thought about your Fatsia: it looks like interveinal chlorosis (ie the veins are green, the leaf inbetween is yellowing); this is a symptom of magnesium deficiency and affects old leaves at the bottom of the plant – any magnesium that the plant can get hold of is directed towards new growth. A feed of Epsom Salts will sort it out if this is the case. Hope this is useful!

    1. Hi Caro, thank you, I have been feeling a little fed up about the rate of progress, so that was lovely to read. I’m just tired, a few days taking it a little bit easy and I should regain my mojo. ‘Kesselringii’ looks rather amazing, I’ve just been ogling it online. I’m sure I could fit one in somewhere…

      Epsom salts! Thank you, I bet our local chemist sells them.

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