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Plant of the week Skimmia.

DON'T skim over the Skimmias.

For a relatively small group of plants, skimmias have a big punch to give in the winter garden and all without too much effort on your part.

Originally from the Far East, there are now scores of excellent cultivars and hybrids for us to choose from that give flowers and fruits from spring onwards.

Like hollies (Ilex), there are female and male plants amongst the species and so your selection should ensure that you have at least one of each in the garden to get the benefit of fruits as well as flowers.

As skimmias are shade tolerant, we can all find a corner of the garden to suit them but they do need a healthy, moisture retentive soil and so an annual mulch in spring with leaf mould, bark or peat may be necessary if your garden soil is very free draining.

There are no regular pruning requirements to keep the plants performing well, although badly placed branches can be removed as and when required.

The biggest selection of cultivars is within the skimmia japonica species that produces fragrant white flowers and red berries. One of the best is S. j. reevesiana from China that is an hermaphrodite variety not needing another plant to pollinate the flowers and it bears the flowers and the berries at the same time. S. j. 'Rubella' is a compact male plant with red-margined leaves and clusters of dark red flowers throughout the autumn and winter periods.

S. j. 'Bowles' Dwarf' is an excellent front of border type, only reaching 15cm (6") high and both male and female plants are available to ensure that you get the red berries.

My diary...

. IN tune with the Moon 2010 - the new day-by-day Moon Planner is now out and gives comprehensive instructions on how to garden in tune with the Lunar cycles.

It gives guidance on growing and living so that your whole life can stay in tune. So, if you want to garden live according to the science of biodynamics, this is the book for you. In tune with the Moon 2010 is priced at pounds 8.99 , published by Findhorn Press (www.findhorn.com). ISBN 978-1-84409-178-2. A FEW weeks ago I listed the dates for some of the major 2010 national flower shows.

Now it is your turn. If you are the show secretary or club secretary of a local garden club and you hold annual flower, fruit and vegetable shows, why not let the rest of Huddersfield know about it by sending me the details.

Write to me at Graham's Local Flower Shows, Features Office, Huddersfield Daily Examiner, PO Box A26, Queen Street South, Huddersfield, HD1 3DU and I will place the details in this column for all to see.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Dec 5, 2009
Words:461
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