Winter visit and forest garden plants at Colby Woodland Garden

Bright red Cornus kousa fruit

Lovely red Cornus kousa fruit seen on a visit to Colby Woodland Garden

All manner of forest garden stalwarts spotted on a winter visit to the National Trust Colby Woodland Garden near Amroth in Pembrokeshire

Last weekend we paid a visit to Colby Woodland Garden in Pembrokeshire. It was damp and mild, perfect for browsing, trudging and investigating plants. I’m always struck by the variety of forest garden favourites in a ‘traditional’ garden. At Colby, there was a vast number of Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon Grapes) and other Mahonia, and my first encounter with the fruit of Cornus kousa (Japanese Dogwood)! Bright red, only slightly exaggerated by the instagrammed filter on my phone, soft and yellow inside, with a dozen seeds.

Cornus kousa seeds and fruit on a piece of kitchen paper

Cornus kousa seeds and fruit

I didn’t eat the fruit, I wasn’t too sure what it was and I thought it was a late summer rather than a winter fruit! I’ll try and propagate them (according to Martin Crawford in Creating a Forest Garden the seeds take 14 weeks of stratification).

The tree/shrub itself is very elegant, we saw a fantastic specimen with beautiful cream flowers at Old Cilgwyn Gardens near Llandyfriog a couple of years ago and last year we planted a Cornus kousa var chinensis from Ty Rhos Trees.

Cornus kousa tree/shrub

Cornus kousa tree/shrub at Colby Woodland Garden

Near the entrance to Colby is a wall and water feature, crowned beautifully with the rampant Rubus tricolor (Chinese Bramble). It looked magnificent, spilling over the edge of the wall in all its evergreen glory. Don’t plant this at home kids, unless you have plenty of space. It is so rampant it will even out compete grass.

Evergreen vegetation spilling over wall next to steps

Rubus tricolor in luxuriant abundance, spilling over the wall and rill at Colby

And finally, one of my favourite ground cover plants, Vinca minor (Lesser Periwinkle). Thick, glossy foliage, tough as old boots, a really robust and easy to care for plant.

Vinca minor (Lesser Periwinkle) glossy evergreen ground cover

Magnificent Vinca minor (Lesser Periwinkle) ground cover. Watch out weeds.