Evergreen conifers. No, wait - come back! These are pretty interesting ones. These are species that were around at the dawn on time. Ones that dinosaurs would graze on, before getting stomach ache, presumably.
Winter is a pretty boring time in most people's gardens. All the Delphiniums and Dahlias that looked so nice in the summer, have shrivelled to a rotting mess. This is the reason why I've concentrated my efforts on plants that look good all-year-round.
I started off with palms and yuccas, then succulents and ferns. The list goes on. I suppose I first became interested in these ancient conifers after having see huge Monkey Puzzle trees growing in public and private gardens. Those weird sort of plants appeal to me.
I bought my Monkey Puzzle (Araucaria araucana pictured above) several years ago. It's actually grown quite a bit since I bought it. The little plant in the same pot is Ruscus aculeatus 'John Redmond', which holds on to red berries through the winter.
The tall conifer in the picture is the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis), rediscovered in the 1990's in Australia after having been thought to be extinct for millions of years. I have been reading the progress of Julia's Wollemi Pine on her great blog We're Going to Need a Bigger Pot. In a similar manner to Julia, I am naming my plant, Wollemina.
Another ancient Australian conifer is Araucaria bidwillii. This is my one below. The last two winters have been hard on it, but has so far survived happily outdoors. A friend bought it back from Australia in 2003, and it has been outside ever since. The native Australians used to eat the 'Bunya Pine' seeds as they fell. The cone bearing the seeds is especially large, and people are advised against walking under these trees in years of heavy coning.
The problem with these amazing trees, is that they grow up into very big plants. Oh well, I hope to have a bigger garden to accomodate them!
Now for something completely different, Pseudowintera colorata;