Nandina (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just heard of Rosemary Verey the other day.  What she said about gardening had occurred to me already.  Gardens do not take the winter months off.  They do not go to Florida.  They are out there in the world, saying something visually and should not look like “scorched earth” in the winter.  This complicates even more their compositions.  One has to think about shapes, heights, colors, amount of water needed, amount of sun needed, deer, types of soils, yadda yadda yadda, not even to mention disease, when something blooms, when something doesn’t.  So now we have to think about how something looks when it is not there.  Baaah!


One has to be thankful for the evergreens.  They stay in winter and provide structure.   In the case of hollies, as above, the deer don’t eat them.  You can count on them.  Around here, in December, when we want them to, they express the seasonal spirit with their red berries.

1-more hollies

In these parts,  easy to grow and propagate, dependable in its winter showiness is Nandina, both normal in size and dwarf.  It cooperates and gets red and ruddy in December as well.  The Nandina above is looking a little worse for wear.  You are supposed to cut down one third of it each year as it gets leggy and new growth should be started near the ground level at all times.  Although it is nice to see the sculpture behind it, I wish it didn’t have that great gap in the middle.

Still on the topic of the uneven, you can see in these pictures that there are four hollies that make up this “tunnel” at the gate to the pool.  The two inside the wall are quite a bit shorter than the two outside.  I used to square off the inside bushes, and then got the idea for the tunnel.  It was then that I let them grow as the outside-the-gate hollies.

My tunnel is uneven and the two sides bulge with entasis like a Greek column.  I will meditate on whether to get up on a ladder and solve these problems.

1-dwarf nandina

In another garden, see how leggy the regular Nandina has gotten?  I must go out there and implement the one third policy.  The dwarf Nandina in the foreground however is low and bushy and the only problem it has is that it is propagating all the time, and I have to remove the new plants interfering with the pattern that was set up.  Because of this phenomenon I have this pattern growing in two more gardens, but not nearly this mature.  It is like repeating a pattern in various parts of a painting.  The palm in the center here is good in the winter, and even the remainders of some tall lilies are still showy.  What is missing here to the back left is a massive group of ginger lilies that had to be cut down.  My garden is like a mouth with several teeth missing.

1-nandina detail

See how the Nandina gets red in the winter?  New growth which is red covers the older leaves from earlier in the year.



  1. Just read that in Shanghai bunches of berried nandia are sold in the streets for indoor decoration to celebrate the new year. So you could prune and decorate? Jan 1 or Feb 13

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s