Winter tends to be the forgotten season in the garden. Flowers have turned brown and crispy, and leaves are on the ground but the brilliant red and orange berries of hollies and firethorns sing against the muted backdrop. Bare branches also have their own beauty against either a grey or bright blue sky of winter.
The best way to ensure you have a garden that looks great in winter is to give structure and shape to the space. Consider your winter plants as the skeleton of your garden. These can be evergreen plants that will keep their leaves all year round, or a particular plant that has colour through flowers or berries in the winter months. You need to decide on these plants first and only then think about what you can plant between them for the rest of the year. Once you have planted your structural plants, you can then plant bulbs, perennials or annuals in amongst them. The structure will give you interest over the winter months and will hold everything together for the rest of the year.
Bright-colored or unusual branches save a garden after perennials have given up the ghost and trees and bushes are leafless. A twiggy dogwood produces showy, white-outlined leaves in summer and, in winter has wonderful red stems 5 to 6 feet tall. The paperbark maple (Acer griseum), which, after a classic autumn flash of brilliant orange-red leaves, shows off cinnamon-colored bark that peels in long, curled strips.
Plants for Winter Structure
- Box (Buxus) These plants are evergreen and are grown very easily either in the ground or in pots. They are fantastic clipped into geometrical shapes.
- Lavender. It looked stunning in spring with all the beautiful blue flowers but it looks just as good in winter covered in frost.
- Hebe. These shrubs flower beautifully and retain a nice shape during winter.
- Fatsia Japonica. These architectural plants can give your garden a tropical look and are quite hardy and good in winter.
- Mahonia. A very easy to grow and architectural plant. with spiny leaves with a stunning yellow flower.
Plants for Winter Interest
- Sweet box (Sarcococca confusa). This lovely shrub doesn’t just give you evergreen interest but it produces fragrant white flowers and dark berries.
- Hellebore. These have a colour range from green to white to pink and flower from January onwards.
- Red Dogwood (Cornus). These shrubs are mainly grown for their deep red winter stems.
- Euphorbia. A very versatile evergreen plant with a number of different shaped leaves producing unusual, small green flowers in spring and retaining their beautiful shape and leaves in winter.
- Heather. A plant which provides much-needed winter colour. Winter flowering heather can come in white, pink and purple and can be grown in pots.
The list of plants that are great for winter interest could be endless. Remember to choose plants that are suitable for your own garden’s conditions and aspect.