Suntrap Garden

Trees and Shrubs in the Garden for Winter Interest

Long nights and short days are upon us.  Most of us will only see our gardens at the weekend for the next few months.  So how can we brighten things up and ensure that our plot does not resemble a driech moor land until next spring?  There are many tricks that we can employ when using plants that will make things a bit more interesting and there is a plethora of worthy ornamental plants to choose from that really come into their own in autumn and winter.  It’s important to remember stems, structure and scent when choosing plants for the winter months.  Try some of the following ideas to enliven your garden:

Plant evergreens

  • Conifers and other evergreen plants such as box, Hebe, Bracyglottis or Viburnum Davidii really give structure to the winter garden.  Most of these plants are easily walked past in the summer time but in the winter they appear to stand out amid the barrenness of the garden.
  • For dark corners choose evergreens that are variegated such as Ilex ‘Golden Queen’, Aucuba japonica and Eleagnus pungens maculate.  The golden yellow on these leaves catches even the smallest amount of winter light and reflects it back ten fold.

Hebe Bracyglottis

Plant for Long Lasting Berries and Fruit

We all like to feed the birds and they are already making off with the red berries from Rowan’s and Cotoneaster’s around the garden.  Try planting shrubs with other colour berries and the birds will leave these alone for a longer time:

  • For yellow fruits try Malus ‘Golden Hornet’, the golden crab or alternatively the evergreen large Cotoneaster ‘Exburiensis’ whose yellow berries stay on the plant in my garden well into March.
  • Pale pink and white berries are produced respectively by Sorbus vilmorinii and S. Cashmeriana, both exquisitely ferny leaved and small rowans.
  • For the craziest, most unbelievable berry colour search out Callicarpa bodinieri with its bright purple fruit.

Callicarpa bodinieri

Plant for winter stem interest

  • Trees with interesting bark include the Eucalyptus group and many of the birches which range from pale bronze through white to almost pink.
  • For shrubs don’t be without the old favourites Cornus and Salix for glorious stem colour.
  • Add a bit of madness with the tortured stems of Corylus avellana contorta or Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick.

Silver Birch Tree

Winter Flowers

  • Many are highly scented in an attempt to attract pollinating insects – so make sure you plant them where you can appreciate the perfume; include Sarcoccoca, Hamamellis and the Mahonias.
  • Don’t forget catkins – the best of which can be found on Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’.

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

Taken from an article written by Ann Burns, Team Leader Horticulture, Oatridge College


Gardening Scotland – The Results

Congratulations to everyone who was involved with Gardening Scotland.  Thank you for giving your time, skills and enthusiasm.


Oatridge/Suntrap/Perennial, Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Society

Ann and the team get GOLD

Ann and the team get GOLD


Pinewood Day Centre




Cedarbank School



Gardening Scotland – Beatlemania

It was a hard day setting up the beatle at the site.

june 2009 451

june 2009 453

june 2009 492

Open Day – Sunday 24 May

We’re ready and looking forward to your visit.


Guided Garden Tours with John Smith, Team Leader at Suntrap,

11.00 am, 12.00 noon, 2.00 pm and 3.00 pm


11.00-12.00    How to plant containers with Ann Burns from Oatridge College

12.00-1.00     How to care for Bonsais with the Scottish Bonsai Association

Garden Advice throughout the day with Brian Williams and Ann Burns

Buy some plants from MacPlants, Friends of Suntrap or from the Suntrap Garden Centre

Scavenger hunt, children’s games and face painting

Meet Eubee the 18 month old snowy owl

Relax with a cup of tea or coffee and some home baking from the Friends of Suntrap

Weather for Suntrap Garden Open Day – Sunday 24 May

I thought I would check out the weather for Sunday, it’s set to be dry and sunny.

It looks like the perfect weather for a trip to our Open Day.

mark's feet .jpg

Tidy Up or Leave Alone?


Imagine a long pile of leaves blown into the wall next to a pavement – don’t you want to revert to childhood, jump in, drag your feet and kick leaves everywhere? I know I do and actually if I think no one is looking I admit I still do it. But in my garden fallen leaves are not fun they are just a nuisance that I feel the need to tidy every weekend at the moment.


So ‘To tidy or Not to Tidy’ is the question; make your own mind up with the pro’s and con’s below:


• When gathered, fallen leaves from deciduous trees make marvellous leaf mould. Collect them in leaf mould bags or use black bags, make some holes in the filled bags with a fork and hide them round the back of the shed for a couple of years. The resulting leaf mould is a lovely product, perfect for mulching plants, or for mixing in alpine or orchid compost

• Clearing leaves from the ground scrupulously at this time of year reduces the number of places that over wintering slugs, caterpillars, cut worms and grubs can hang out. Therefore you are likely to reduce some pest numbers just by being tidy.

• Lots of leaves that fall from our shrubs, trees and rose bushes will be covered in fungal spores, by removing these leaves we are helping to stop recontamination by the fungus. Composting the leaves tends to kill off a lot of these spores.

• Tidying up leaves and plant debris burns up calories; – so if you do a weekly garden workout you will be able to burn off all those extra calories and earned yourself a warm cup of coffee and a cake.


Or Not to Tidy?

• Clearing all your leaves and plant rubbish may get rid of a number of garden pests but it also discourages the ‘Good Guys’ such as ladybirds and lacewings which love plant debris to over winter in.

• Clearing removes an insulating layer from the surface of the soil, which can expose buds, rhizomes and bulbs to frost and winter wet.

• Nature does her own composting and gradually over the winter much of the dead plant material will be worked back into the soil. When you finally do your spring clean around March time you will find you have far less bulk to get rid of whether to the compost bin or wherever.
So make you own mind up and don’t feel guilty whichever you choose.

Taken from a column published in November in Scotland on Sunday by Ann Burns, Team Leader Horticulture and Landscape Construction, Oatridge College

Excesses of Christmas

Are you fed up already with the excesses of Christmas, too much turkey, too many mince pies and too much mulled wine? You probably need a bit of exercise outside in the garden. A great idea at this time of year is to lift a clump of Rhubarb for forcing to give you the earliest and sweetest crop around:


• Choose a large rhubarb plant already growing in your garden, one that is a minimum of three years old is best.
• Dig up the plant keeping as much soil on the roots as possible. (This is not a job for the faint hearted – but you will deserve a small tipple afterwards.)
• Leave the clump outside on the ground to go through at least three or four hard frosts.
• Pot into a large tub, wooden box or even a bag ……. I use a woven blue plastic one from a certain Swedish furniture store! You can use old compost, soil or even sawdust to pot the roots into.
• The plant then needs to go indoors to a temperature of 50 – 60OF in complete darkness, a large cupboard or cellar is ideal.
• Keep the roots moist but not wet and around 10 to 12 weeks later you will be able to harvest your first Rhubarb stalks when they are around a foot to 18” high. The stalks will be bright pink and really sweet with small unformed leaves. Use all the stalks that are produced over around a four week period.
• When the harvest period is finished set the plants back outside. They can be replanted in the spring when they will give a small crop; they will recover back to full cropping outside within a year or two.

If you can’t be bothered with all the fuss described above remember it is easy to force Rhubarb ‘in situ’ later:


• Cover the clumps with upside down buckets, pails or proper custom made clay forcers in March.
• Check during April and May and harvest the young shoots as they appear.
• Give different clumps a ‘rest year’ in between ‘forcing years’.
• Enjoy!!!!

Merry Christmas and happy forcing.