YP Comment: Giving power to the people

YOU don’t have to look far to find community spirit in action. All over the country bands of dedicated volunteers act as the glue that binds their communities together.

HARD CORE: Agave Americana can be surprisingly tough when the temperature tumbles.

American dream

Certain plants are associated with certain places – who would dream of trying to grow a tender, tropical succulent, outdoors, in a garden on the North Yorkshire Moors?

COLOUR COORDINATED: Crotons come in a multitude of contrasting hues.

Adventures in space come in many shades

Space, as Captain James T Kirk used to say in Star Trek, was the final frontier. Homeowners tend to think smaller.

EASY GOING: Kerria japonica will grow in just about any soil and any situation.

Stay mellow for yellow

Sometimes, the seasons don’t matter. A problem is a problem whatever the time of year, and gardeners are among the worst when it comes to dwelling on things that are far removed from the bitter months of winter.

IN FINE SHAPE: The Umbrella Tree, at Levens Hall, Cumbria

Favourites with their roots in our broad acres

The oak tree has long been a favourite with the English. So much so that when the Woodland Trust first began its search for Britain’s favourite tree, Quercus took the majority of places in the top 10 back in 2014. But last year, while oaks weren’t forgotten, a couple of Yorkshire trees were nominated.

MIDGET GEM: The lowly snowdrop is a big favourite.

Braving the winter

Anyone would think that the snowdrop was embarrassed about its appearance; its blooms hide their faces from the sky and, instead, look to the soil.

HOME AND DRY: Viburnum opulus can tolerate heavy, damp ground.

Gardening: Raining champs

We all need cheering up. Forget about winter, start thinking about spring – and then the glory of a proper English summer.

MELLOW YELLOW: The delightful primrose loves the great outdoors but also makes a wonderful houseplant.

Thoughts of spring blooms lift the gloom

I have yet to meet anyone who has a bad word to say about primroses, those elegant and colourful little flowers that transform woodland edges and shady banks as well as making wonderful houseplants.

HAPPY NEW YEAR: A garden euphorbia pictured this week.

Hardy they come

Is there a New Year plant? Christmas has a host of decorative ones to help celebrate the festive season, but the advent of January seems to have no equivalent. Sometimes the weather is kind enough to encourage snowdrops or other very dwarf bulbs to flower, but there’s no guaranteed consistency. What appeared last year may not appear this.

COLD COMFORT: Frost enhances the flavour of sprouts.

Sown on April Fools’ Day, eaten at Christmas

Love them or hate them, they are an integral part of the British Christmas.

IN THE PINK: Dianthus can bloom whatever the weather.

Still in the Pink

I have to admit that I have a soft spot for pinks, but they are hardly a flower associated with Christmas and the dark months of a British winter.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS: Schlumbergera brings a splash of colour to winter.

Pot look winners

Many people are proud of their houseplants – particularly ones that have stood the test of time or have been handed down through the generations.

SMALL WONDER: Juniperus squamata Blue Star.

Virtue in versatility

A garden is like a school – among all the chaos there needs to be some sort of regulation, some permanence on which all things hang; not ruled with a rod of iron but strong enough to provide reliability and constancy.

GONE TO POT: Growing flowers in containers could be the future for many gardeners.

Fighting back against county’s tide of water

Growing plants from seed is always a bit of a lottery – especially where seeds are sown directly in garden soil outside. And there are always going to be some losers. Heavy rain can wash away the seeds or encourage rotting before germination can take place.

Harlow Carr tells the story of gardening behind enemy lines

Harlow Carr tells the story of gardening behind enemy lines

A new exhibition at a Yorkshire garden will tell the story of how horticulture helped British prisoners survive wartime internment.

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SPOT ON: Aucuba, the ever-reliable spotted laurel.

There’s nothing dull about the winter garden

Winter can have just as much beauty and interest as the awakening spring, and colour to rival that of the summer border. You just have to look a little harder.

WINTER WONDER; Erica carnea Whitehall loves the British winter.

Shades of winter

Erica carnea ‘Whitehall’ loves the British winter. It may be difficult to spot when there’s snow on the ground, but give it a dull, dismal day and it will glow.

SEEING RED: Poinsettia in the wild.

Symbol of the season

Even if you didn’t know Christmas was on its way, just one glimpse inside a garden centre would leave little doubt.You would be seeing red because, of all the plants which appear in December, the poinsettia has probably come to symbolise the ‘festive’ season – it’s the indoor equivalent of the holly and it’s done its best to usurp the place of cyclamen and hyacinths as the Christmas flower.

OUT OF AFRICA: Saintpaulia can provide year-round interest.

Fussy violet can be worth effort to keep happy

It’s not surprising that African violets (Saintpaulia) are so popular; their lovely blooms and attractive foliage can provide year-round interest.

COVER-UP: There is always at least one variety of ivy for every site and situation.

Join the ivy league

Christmas is but a spit and a cough away and while many people have an affinity with the culinary delights of the festive period, I have always had an affinity with plants, particularly ivy, which I think gets a bit of a raw deal whatever the time of year.

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