Saturday, 10 January 2009

Winter colour - Rubus cockburnianus

The powdery white stems of the immensely thorny Rubus cockburinanus really sing out vividly at this time of the year, contrasting dramatically with the still fresh green of the bamboo that stands next to them. With its dreadful suckering habit and vigorous root system, Rubus can be a big mistake if planted in the wrong place! It is worth growing for its winter stems if you can cope with having to dig out suckers when they venture too far and if you can put up with the lashing branches as you try to weed under it in summer!

A month ago, we donned the thickest gloves and, using long handled pruners, cut out all the old, dark stems - a tedious, scratchy job - but the reward is this lovely, clear, open framework where the stems crisscross like some natural trellis work. We took care not to rub off the white bloom that covers the red stems and makes them so visually interesting in early January.

There are buds in the snowdrops, flowers on the Mahonia x 'Charity' and sky blue flowers on the rosemary 'Tuscan Blue' in the greenhouse. The robins are happy when we rake up leaves and dart in and out quickly spotting the tiniest grubs. Some of the grasses are starting to shoot away at the base, the Miscanthus having thin pointed buds posied for takeoff, so things are already stirring in the garden.

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