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Name: Alexandra Taylor
Question: I have a third size hogshead barrel and want to plant it with an evergreen shrub, eventually about 1.5m height and spread the same. It will be in full sun and I need it to be fully hardy. Any ideas?
Answer: Hello Alexandra. Yes, I have lots of ideas! There are plenty of evergreens to choose from that would be suitable for your container. How about something with scented flowers for a bit more interest throughout the year? Maybe Daphne odora Aureomarginata which forms a beautiful rounded shrub and looks lovely in a container. Or perhaps Sarcococca confusa for its fragrant winter blooms, or Gardenia jasminoides ‘Kleim’s Hardy’, although this will need a slightly shadier spot and will only grow to around a 90cm height and spread, so may be a little small for your needs. Skimma japonica ‘Rubella’ and evergreen dwarf Rhododendrons also make nice flowering specimens if you are able to offer a slightly shadier position.
For fabulous variegated foliage you will find Euonymous fortune ‘Emerald and Gold’ or ‘Emerald Gaiety’ hard to beat. You might even like to try a Hebe, such as ‘Mrs Winder’. Fatsia japonica makes a lovely architectural specimen too.
If you are more interested in edibles then maybe you could try an evergreen Blueberry or a nice bushy Rosemary. I hope that gives you a little inspiration Alexandra.
Name: Judy Colley
Question: I recently bought a Clematis repens Tinkerbelle from you, I re-potted it, and have it indoors, and try and keep it in the light. It has many shrivelled dead leaves but one "arm" is growing tall and I've had to put a stake in the pot to train it. Altogether it does not look happy. It was expensive and I'd hate to lose it, but how do I keep it going until I can plant it outside?
Answer: Hello Judy. Sorry to hear that you are having concerns about your clematis. It hard to say what is wrong without seeing it but I can give you some care advice and hopefully we can get it growing nicely again.
It’s a tricky time of the year for young plants, especially if they too small to go outside yet and you have to keep them on the windowsill in your home. Ideally, your clematis will prefer to be in a cool room, away from radiators etc which can dry the atmosphere and cause large variances in temperature throughout the day. A spare bedroom or frost free conservatory is often a good choice. Try to ensure that your plant gets as much light as possible during the day.
Take care not to overwater your clematis. Plants naturally slow down growth rates or even stop growing in winter due to lower light levels and cooler temperatures. As a result their water use will decrease significantly. Clematis don’t like a soggy bottom at the best of times so you can afford to keep your clematis a bit drier in winter. Aim to keep the compost just moist, and never wet until active growth is seen again next spring. One final point, don’t try to make your plant ‘better’ by adding fertiliser at this time of the year – wait until active growth is well under way again. I hope that your plant improves for you, Judy. If not then please contact our customer service team who will be able to help you further.