Most perennial winter plants are dormant in winter and start shooting out of the ground in spring, so the ones that do flower in winter are eye-catching. The following provide an exciting glimpse of what can be grown in the winter garden, when many plants are resting.
Helleborus – This is an important genus from the gardener’s point of view, with many desirable plants, all with nodding flowers and handsome, more or less evergreen leaves. They are indispensable in the winter garden. All Hellebores thrive in the shade of deciduous trees and shrubs and will even tolerate heavy shade next to a wall. They are easy to grow in any fertile, well-drained soil in sun or shade. All are poisonous.
The Aeonium is a succulent, subtropical garden plant of the genus Aeonium and family Crassulaceae, native to the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean region of North Africa. If a plant looks like a hens and chickens on top of a thick stalk it is possibly an aeonium. They look very much like the sempervivums of Europe and the echeverias of Mexico and Central America.
Aeonium has light yellow flowers that form long clusters. In most cases the plant dies after flowering when the seed matures. Don’t be too hasty in composting the plant, though, new rosettes sometimes appear lower down on the stems.
Umbrella Palm (Cyperus alternifolius), also known as Umbrella Papyrus, is native to Mauritius and Madagascar where it grows as a wild plant. It grows in the form of shrubs and in most cases these are wrongly mistaken for grasses with which they have little in common, apart from appearance. It has several stems growing directly upward from a mass of roots and an umbrella-shaped cluster of leaves at the top of each stem. The leaves of the umbrella plant are narrow and flattened and only 6″ to 10″ long. All the leaves are arranged atop triangular stems. It is simple to grow, but it requires plenty of water and dew (Umbrella plant is happy growing in shallow water but can also handle drier situations, like in your garden perennial bed.).
Wild Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is a well-known wildflower found growing on the sides of the road and is chalky soil in early summer. Because it is a common plant, it can be found anywhere, in gardens, in uncultivated areas, on fields, on road edges and so on. It has fragrant small white flowers with yellow centres. The plants self-seed rapidly and have to checked otherwise they may become invasive. There are two main varieties of chamomile, Roman and German.
German chamomile is a delicate looking plant that is surprisingly tough. The ferny foliage tends to flop over and the tiny flowers look like miniature daisies. Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is often used as a groundcover or creeping plant used to soften the edges of a stone wall or walkway. Roman chamomile is a perennial. The German chamomile discussed here is the annual herb used for making tea. Both the leaves and the flowers are used for tea. Some people think chamomile has a slight apple-like taste. The leaves can be more bitter than the flowers.
One of the oldest herbs in cultivation hyssop is an attractive evergreen shrub with brilliant blue, pink or white flowers held on a spike. Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) grows well with other scented herbs such as lavender and sage. The fresh herb from garden is commonly used in cooking. The leaves can be used to make hyssop tea which is considered a cure for bronchitis and chest complaints but the leaves are more often used in soups, salads and stews to add a bittermint flavour. It can be used for robust, rustic dishes like potato or bean soup, and it goes well with fat meat; others suggest it to spice up calf and chicken.
The flavour is strong and not universally popular. It was also used by the monks who made Chartreuse and Benedictine liqueurs and hyssop oil is used in parfumes. The plant is also attractive to bees and butterflies.
There are many reasons for creating an indoor garden – significant among them is the need to clean the toxins from our homes and offices. Today’s homes and offices are built to conserve energy and the outcome has been a lack of air exchange, with the resulting increase of indoor air pollution. The World Health Organization has stated, “there’s probably more damage to human health from indoor pollution than from outdoor pollution.” Symptoms associated with indoor pollution include allergies, asthma, eye, nose, and throat irritations, fatigue, headache, nervous system disorders, respiratory and sinus congestion.
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