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Sunday, 29 December 2019

Creating A Good Winter Garden

Grumbles about winter gardens are not justified. The fault lies firstly with us and our fair weathered nature. We shop when its warm and buy what we see in flower in May and June and miss the winter flowers. I am generalising. Go shopping on a mid winters day and you will then appreciate we have colour all winter.

The second responsibility for this travesty is Monty Don and the Beechgrove team as they stop broadcasting in November, thus implying the garden is closed until spring.
Winter Majoram Seed Heads

Structure and frost

Tall stemmed perennials, attractive seed heads, plants with interesting texture like grasses, coloured stems, berries, bark, catkins, garden structures, shapely trees, reflective water and evergreens. These are the bones you are left with when winter settles on the garden. Don't be down hearted as these may not be abundant with flowery buds but they can have an ethereal beauty all of their own.

Viburnum tinus in December
A frosty morning is a beautiful morning and against a strong blue sky a haw frost has to be one of the most beautiful sites all year.
Stuctured shubs look beautiful coated in frost.

Corylus contorta
Perennials With A Structured Shape
Choosing to leave your more structured perennials unchopped until spring will allow them to form the icy silhouette shapes that freeze so beautifully. Its also good cover for wildlife.

Perennials like this Aster frikatii Monch above or achillias and eupatorium have great sturdy stems that deserve a good haw frost experience. Adorn your garden with spikes and seed heads like these. I have heard them described as plants that look good in death. Hydrangeas fall into this category as they look fabulous dead.

Colourful Stems
Cornus stems are so colourful. Seen here against a yellow thuja conifer it positively glows its so bright. Chose from dark red to lime green or orange or even perhaps plant together and mix them up. Oranges and red are electric in winter.
Look closely at the stems of your shrubs and many will surprise you. Some of the macrophylla hydranges have hidden red stems and shrubs like physocarpus can also have rich red stems these can all provide good winter interest. 

Add to the bare bones of your garden with some great shaped trees like my small Betula pendula Yongii with fabulous silver bark and gnarled figure or my favourite Prunus serrula with glowing red bark. Consider some of the salix with amazing coloured stems, bark and shape. Pollarded, topiary cloud prune and bonzi. These also make great winter silhouette shapes.

Winter Bedding
If you need flowers they are plenty out there even in winter. Easy bedding colour  can be found in instant violas, pansies, bellis and primroses and we  are blessed with some great winter flowering plants.

Shrubs and Perennials
Abelia, sedum and pitasporum are every day plants, here together they look so winter colourful. Both abelia and pitasporum pictured are evergreen and the sedum (perennial) look great in death making great seed heads to catch a twinkling frost.

Winter Berries
These deserve a page to themselves but don't miss out on the amazing purple callicarpia berries or the festive skimmias and the varied gaultheria in red, white and pink. 

Winter Flowering Shrubs, Perennials, Trees and bulbs
Heavenly hellebores, sweetly scented saraccoca , Viburnum tinus (pictured up above) and flowering viburnum bonariensis mahonia and witch hazel are fantastic winter flowering plants and in addition the the trees flowering winter cherry tree and a mass of spring bulbs together make any grumbles about a lack of winter flowers are totally inexcusable!

More on Winter Shrubs and Trees

Winter Plants

Take a glance at our ideas for winter pots.

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