Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Emerald Garden; Enjoy Year-Round Foliage by Stocking Your Garden with a Range of Evergreen Leaf Shapes, Textures and Variegations

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Emerald Garden; Enjoy Year-Round Foliage by Stocking Your Garden with a Range of Evergreen Leaf Shapes, Textures and Variegations

Article excerpt

PICTURE the scene... I'm sitting at a silver desk in the penthouse suite of a futuristic James Bond baddie-type house. Below, the hillside tumbles away, eventually reaching the banks of the meandering River Vltava.

And, on the other side, the city of Prague is spread out with its skyline of red-tile roofs punctured by castles and cathedrals.

The house is set at the edge of municipal fruit forests which for decades have been used by Czech families who picnic from spring till early autumn. No alfresco dining today as it's raining but, despite this, our crew of gardeners are installing and planting a new garden.

Throughout much of Northern Europe evergreens are king and this planting scheme is no different. At home, winds and rain are helping to rid deciduous trees and shrubs of their leafy clothing and the stalwarts of the garden, often that strong evergreen background, really begins to shine. So it's a good time to take a look at which evergreens add the most to our plots.

Here in Prague our planting plan is a case study in all-year-round foliage.

I'm using my favourites... a symphony of shaped yew, box balls, pinus mugo and carpets of pachysandra with leafy ferns to bed them in. It's reminiscent of my Irish Sky Garden at the 2011 Chelsea Flower Show, which featured lots of topiary box as well.

So what are the best planting |garden plants to achieve that year-round emerald look in your garden? Some gardeners are getting nervous about using box because of box blight, a fungal disease which can destroy the plant.

However, if you like that neat topiary look, there are alternatives. You can clip plain old privet into beautiful shapes or try Ilex crenata Dark Green - this box-leaved holly has lovely small dark glossy leaves and will grow in sun or shade. Unlike box, you can prune it hard into old wood and it springs back. …

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