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.
Growbags are a simple way to start off growing vegetables in containers and the beginner gardener would do well to try out a few plants in them before embarking on a full scale container kitchen garden. They contain a peat-based compost with added nutrients sufficient to establish most plants. Plants grown in growbags will need additional feeding throughout the year.
Traditionally they were used to grow outdoor tomatoes and placed against a warm wall with canes to which the plants could be trained. However, the range of vegetables that can be cultivated in growbags is much larger.
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.
Leaf miners are small insect larvae that feed inside the leaves of the plant. Eventually the whole leaf may be destroyed. The damage done by these garden pests to our plants is easy to spot because of the “mines” created as the bugs chews inside the leaf. Most leaf miners are moths and flying insects that evolved and survived through this protection against predators.
In some instances the leafminer will cause a light colored blotch on the leaf, in really bad cases the plant will look discolored and/or drop leaves. It is rare that leafminers do enough damage to kill a plant, what they destroy mostly is the aesthetic value of your ornamentals for a short period of time.
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.