Let the sun shine – and let those shrubs which love the sun have a field day. Let them revel in the warmth of an English summer, and let them repay the gardener for putting his faith in their ability to provide months of colour.
Obviously, by wishing for a long, hot summer, I have just put the mockers on any chance of seeing the sun through the inevitable weeks of rain which are bound to mark the passage of 2014.
But I can hope, and I can look at a few of those shrubs which always do best where the sun shines.
Take, for example, Choisya ternata “Sundance”, the Mexican orange blossom which keeps itself in check, eventually growing to become a three-feet rounded shrub covered in beautiful gold foliage.
Then there are the spireas like “Goldflame”, which produces golden foliage tinged with red and follows with crimson blooms in summer. It tends to get a bit straggly, but pruning will keep it in shape, so it’s ideal for the smaller garden.
And don’t mock the lowly privet, in this case Ligustrum ovalifolium “Aureum”, whose golden leaves are a constant joy. It’s another of those valuable shrubs which can be pruned to shape and size so it will never threaten to take over.
For something slightly bigger and certainly more unusual, there’s Paeonia suffruticosa, the elegant tree peony, whose foliage alone is sufficient to make it a must-have plant for a sunny spot. Then come the blooms – yellows, whites, pinks, magentas... fantastic flowers from fantastic plants which can reach six feet in height.
Looking down, consider Potentilla fruticosa, varieties of which can flower for weeks on end. Choose from vivid yellows, pure whites or even deep reds. Simple of grow and a joy to behold. For something really special, try “Gibson’s Scarlet”, whose red flowers are spread along wands of bright-green leaves. It also grows well in shade.
And then there is the hypericum family. Ignore the ultra-invasive H calycinum (the lovely but dreaded Rose of Sharon) and plump instead for the far more accommodating H “Hidcote” which rarely gets beyond four feet all round and whose golden-yellow blooms are on offer for months.
So, we’ve got the plants ready and waiting to do their thing, all we need now is the sun and 2014 could be a year to remember for all the right reasons.