Top tips for keeping that much loved Christmas plant alive. We've tested a plant sensor and mixed it up with some good old gardening knowledge...
In which men coming out of age are tenuously linked to plants…
When I was younger, I knew a guy called Matt. Matt was small and scrawny and – much though he was a lovely guy – he struggled to be seen as an eligible boyfriend in the playground.
What was particularly unfortunate about this was that Matt had a hulking great rugby player of a brother who was a year older and most of the girls were in love with. Poor Matt lived in his brother’s shadow.
For a couple of years after school I didn’t see him. And then one day, when he was about 20, I bumped into him. He was now almost the same height as his brother, with a muscular build, strong jawline and deep voice. In short, he had matured into a very fine specimen of a man.
In the plant world, many of the most attractive and majestic of our tree and bush specimens take a long time to mature. The tragedy is that in this day and age, because people tend to regularly upsize and downsize, homeowners don’t tend to take a long-term view to gardening.
But many of these plants are well worth planting and this week’s plant of the week, Japanese barberry, is one of these. It can take over 20 years to reach its full size, which will differ depending on the variety that you’ve planted – but the good news is that it will still look great as you grow it, and by the time it is fully grown it is breathtaking.
Varieties of Japanese Barberry come in different shades, and so it’s a great way to bring colour (green, yellow, orange, pink or red) to your garden. We particularly like the ‘Rose Glow’, which has lovely pink-purple foliage in Spring. But whichever you choose, you’ll find that the berberis thunbergii is an easy to grow plant that requires very little maintenance.