Gardening: Horticultural horoscope

Each sign of the zodiac has its associated plants. Naila Green lays down the lore on staying in synch with the heavens

Forget 1 January. For gardeners, the year is about to begin. The spring equinox is almost upon us and, as the days lengthen, the adrenaline flows. Foretelling the gardening year ahead and making planting plans are closely linked. While modern horoscopes may not offer much help, in old astrology books horticulture was prominent, and each star sign had its associated plants.

Pisces (20 February to 20 March): Water lily, fig and willow are Pisces plants. Willows are choice in winter, with the glowing orange-scarlet stems of Salix alba `Britzensis'. In early spring, Salix helvetica has soft grey leaves, and silky grey and yellow catkins.

Aries (21 March to 20 April): Geranium, thistle, honeysuckle and witch hazel, all linked to Aries, tend not to flower this month, though on mild days the lilac-blue flowers of Geranium malviflorum and the maroon-black of G phaeum can appear. Thorns are also linked to Aries, the common hawthorn symbolising the onset of spring. Crataegus x lavallei is one of the best; it has spring blossom, and orange berries in winter.

Taurus (21 April to 21 May): Taurus plants are rose, poppy, violet, foxglove, vine, ash, cypress and apple. The climbing rose `Pompon de Paris' is especially early, and can be smothered with tiny pink flowers at the same time as ceanothus `Puget Blue'. Clumps of the smoky-purple violet, Viola labradorica `Purpurea', would complete the picture.

Gemini (22 May to 21 June): Lily of the valley, lavender, and nut trees are Gemini's plants. The sweet, lily-of-the-valley scent of Convallaria majalis `Fortin's Giant' fills the garden at this time. The French lavender, Lavandula stocchas, also flowers now, with tiny heads of fragrant purple flowers topped by rose-purple bracts.

Cancer (22 June to 22 July): Acanthus is a Cancer plant, the most imposing variety being Acanthus spinosus with its mauve-purple flower spikes and huge, dissected and arching leaves. It thrives on poor soil, plenty of sun, and good drainage. Also associated with this sign are wild flowers, and trees rich in sap.

Leo (23 July to 23 August): Leo plants include sunflower, marigold, dahlia, rosemary, orange, bay, and palm. Trachycarpus fortunei, the chusan palm, is a striking, hardy palm with large, divided, fan-like leaves and sprays of fragrant, creamy-yellow flowers. Dahlias are good plants for Leo, as late summer sees the start of their flowering. One of the most popular and fashionable is `Bishop of Llandaff', with bronze-green leaves and single, deep red flowers.

Virgo (24 August to 23 September): Virgo's plants are nut trees, and shrubs with small, brightly-coloured flowers. An edible, decorative nut tree is the purple-leaved filbert, Corylus maxima `Purpurea'. Purplish catkins with yellow anthers hang from bare branches in late winter.

Libra (24 September to 23 October): Blue flowers are linked with the sign of Libra, as are opulent roses, and vines. One of the more striking vines for the garden is Vitis coignetiae, which has large, heart-shaped leaves turning shades of crimson and scarlet in the autumn. Blue flowers are uncommon at this time of year, though in sheltered, south-facing positions the hardy plumbago, Ceracostigma willmottianum, will bloom with its vibrant blue flowers from August until the first severe frosts come to wither its crimson leaves.

Scorpio (24 October to 22 November): Scorpio includes all plants with dark red flowers, blackthorn, and nut trees. Dark red flowers are uncommon this month, though leaves in that shade are plentiful. Euonymus alatus has an abundance of red leaves followed by small purple and red fruit. Sedum maximum `Atropurpureum' has succulent, dark maroon foliage and red flower heads.

Sagittarius (23 November to 21 December): Plants for this star sign are pinks, lime, mulberry, ash, oak, and birch. The birch tree is welcome for its silvery bark. Even better than the common silver birch is the whitewashed Betula jacquemontii, which shimmers in the frosty, pale winter sunlight. Plant it at the end of the garden, as a focal point and because it will, in time, reach 15 metres (50ft) in height.

Capricorn (22 December to 21 January): Ivy is associated with Capricorn and, although common, Hedera helix `Goldheart' can look stunning with Cornus alba `Sibirica', its bright red stems shining out like laser beams. Other Capricorn plants include pansy, hemlock, pine, willow, elm and poplar.

Aquarius (22 January to 19 February): Fruit and nut trees are associated with Aquarius, but can look dull. Not so the winter-flowering cherry, Prunus subhirtella `Autumnalis'. Although it is unable to fruit, its frosty white flowers shine like stars during mild winters. The contorted hazel, Corylus avellana `Contorta', also unproductive, has twisted, bare stems with yellow catkins dangling like baubles on a Christmas tree.

News
Food blogger and Guardian writer Jack Monroe with her young son
people
News
people
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Life and Style
The racy marketing to entice consumers to buy Fairlife, which launches in the US next month
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Ashdown Group: HR Generalist - 2 week contract - £200pd - Immediate start

£200 per day: Ashdown Group: Working within a business that has a high number ...

Randstad Education Cardiff: Maths Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: We are currently recruiting f...

Randstad Education Cardiff: Science Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Science Teacher -Full Time - ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital