The male plant Skimmia Japonica Rubella comes to life in the Winter
Actually its not at all bad in Spring and Summer, however, Autumn and Winter is when it comes into its own.
The flower buds appear in Autumn, lasting right through the Winter months, and are quite a striking shade of red.
Recently when talking to a garden centre assistant about Skimmia, she said come and look at Rubella it has fabulous tiny red berries.
Well, perhaps she should have known better but I can see where she was coming from, the flower buds on the male plant Rubella do have the appearance of tiny berries.
We did have Rubella in our Aberdeen garden, these ones above I purchased recently were for the purpose of pollinating the female form Skimmia Pabella which I had also ordered and paid for. Well I mentioned in detail in my last post that Pabella was not available.
Enough said about that. I really wanted to give the pollinating thing a good go, so I bought three of the Rubella which are extremely inexpensive, in fact three of these cost less than one of the unavailable Pabellas.
We had been trying to come to a decision on a couple of evergreen shrubs for outside our North facing back door. What do you think of the tubs? they are inexpensive black plastic, quite stylish though. The picture doesn’t show off the plants very well – unless I take close ups! of flowering plants the result is more often than not disappointing. This flaw in my photography or camera does not occur if its long shots of buildings, or bridges etc.
The glossy dark green leaves of the Skimmia really show off these flower buds, the white scented blooms open in April/May.
Skimmia although fully hardy in the UK are not without their problems. They are quite often seen in gardens looking sickly with leaves turning yellow and dropping off, they can survive for years looking like this, but its enough to put you off.
Lets look at the requirements.
They are not over fond of being pruned, however, fortunately, Rubella is the most compact and tight form of Skimmia, making it ideal for pots. Its sufficient just to cut back any stray branches in late Spring which may be spoiling the look of the plant.
Planting and Position
Two reasons for the yellowing of leaves.
1 — Positioning in a place which gets too much sunshine. Skimmia thrives in partial shade or full shade.
2 — Skimmia, much like Rhododendrons prefer acidic soil. If planting in a container, use half and half John Inness N0. 3 and an ericaceous compost, have the top couple of inches ericaceous only.
Planting in the ground, fine if the soil is acidic, otherwise dig in plenty ericaceous compost.
One more thing, when planting Skimmia, do not! have soil higher than the level it was whilst in its pot. This is very important as doing so will prevent flowers from forming. Adding a mulch of ericaceos compost to those planted in the border, keep it well away from the plant stem.
Fully hardy in the UK. Worth pointing out, I have never seen a Skimmia in Aberdeen with berries, here in Cheshire its a common site.
Some forms of Skimmia are self fertile and berry without the need of a male plant. The female form Pabella does requires a male, Rubella is ideal, and very often described as the best male Skimmia available.
Height of Rubella
One metre/a little over three feet. Its a slow grower and if after five years or so you think its not looking so good, well as I say, they are very inexpensive. However when Pabella becomes available next year the price is likely to be £49 for a 2/3ltr pot
I thought I would show what the garden was looking like in late November, Virtually nothing in the way of flowers, here goes anyway.
This is a form of the Miscanthus sinensis named Little Zebra. Definitely adds something to the bare Winter garden
I made a big deal of this (Heuchera Paris) in an earlier post this year (that’s not like me) well ok I know, I get carried away at times. From May/June when it starts to bloom, flower stems are continually emerging in spite of the fact that a single stem can flower for two months. Sort of behaves like a Summer bedding plant, except of course, Heuchera is an evergreen perennial, how good can it get. Above is its determination to survive even when the frost strikes.
The picture to the right, not so very clear but it does show the Bamboo nigra which I planted eighteen months ago. Being evergreen it adds a bit of Winter interest.
Cant make up my mind if I should remove the lower leaves to show off the shiny black stems.
I do not have a clue what happened to the picture, the Bamboo in reality has the young Rowan tree sitting to the right of it and not the left, and the open trellis fence should be sitting at the left of the picture.
I had to rotate it as it donloaded in a landscape manner, must have something to do with rotating it.
Brunnera Jack Frost, planted in the woodland path, still looking reasonable in late November just before the first hard frost, however the one planted in the tub decided it was time to hibernate.
Brunnera in Spring is smothered in pale blue flowers, much like those on forget me nots. A professional gardener once said to me, the price paid for Jack Frost with the fancy leaves is, you get very little flowers. Well that has not been my experience, in fact we have several of these plants and they are always smothered in blooms come Spring.
The back garden in late November on a frosty morning, not a bloom in sight, well there is but only I know where.
Rudbeckia bloomed for such a long period, looking better with a frosty coat than they did the day before.
Miscanthus Red Chief, planted under the apple tree and thriving in a position that should be too dry. The red plumes fade and look good for most of the Winter.
Pulmonaria, I wasn’t so very fond of this plant when we were in Aberdeen, well that was only because they didn’t seem to like us, yet I had seen them doing pretty well in other gardens. Here in Cheshire, I cant get enough of them.
My mini greenhouse stores our Auriculas over the Winter, they are hardy enough but prefer to be kept on the dry side.
That’s the Hydrangea Green Shadow which I was harping on about in my last post, see what the frost has done.
Heuchera Lime Rickey didn’t seem too happy in the spot where I planted him in the back garden, replanted in the border of the woodland path, just loves it.
At the bottom of our woodland path, it opens up and this is what can be seen from the front garden. As the trees come into leaf the woodland floor becomes dark, as one would expect. I have been thinking of planting some early flowering Spring bulbs, hopefully something inexpensive, any suggestions?
The new wooden bench gives a third seating area to our back garden, this is placed to catch the early evening sun in Summer before it goes down.
The other picture as you can see is a non flowering primula in a frosty pot. I planted dozens of these after bringing on wee plug plants which arrived in mid August.
I grew more and more fond of ferns when I finally realised its not all about blooms.
The standard Cotinus after turning a bright red, now quickly loses its leaves. I am hoping it tightens up a bit next year.
The evergreen Aucuba brightens up a shady spot. I don’t think you could find a position in the garden which would be too shady for Aucuba.
The bird feeder has been banished to the woodland path, which means the wood pigeons are less likely to play havoc in the garden borders.
Well there we go, nothing mind blowing about our November garden. Spring bulbs are already popping through in the borders and containers and every opportunity weather-wise will find me pottering about in the garden in search of something to occupy me.
Have a great Christmas and I will see you in 2016.
© 2015, Alistair. All rights reserved.