There will be many of us who have not completed all our Autumn jobs in the garden, and for those who still intend to plant some last-minute bulb, there is still a little bit of time while the ground is soft. However, as winter approaches, do put on those wellies and take time to pause and appreciate what the wintergarden has to offer.
A well-planned, well-planted garden often has much to admire in the winter months. Once all the fallen leaves and herbaceous perennials have been cleared away, the structure provided by hard landscaping and evergreen foliage should become apparent and look clean and striking after the froth and abundant growth of Summer.
There are many plants that flower in winter, and many of them are wonderfully fragrant: the shrub, Viburnum x bodnantense. The evergreen, architectural shrub, Mahonia, is already making a striking feature in many gardens with its arching racemes of sweet-smelling, yellow flowers. Hamamelis, or Witch hazel, also bears bright yellow, fragrant flowers, but on bare stems. Daphne is a fine, evergreen, winter-flowering shrub with a strong, delicious scent. Christmas box, Sarcococca confusa, also bears small, white but pleasantly scented flowers on evergreen stems. Berries are also an attractive feature in the winter, whether the red berries of Holly or Cotoneaster; or the bright orange berries of Iris foetidissima and Nandina domestica, the Heavenly Bamboo; or the blue berries of Viburnum davidii ; or the white berries of a Sorbus tree or Snowberry. Bare coloured stems ortrunks such as those of Acer trees or Dogwoods can also make a striking winter feature in a border.
Foliage can also make its own impact in the winter garden. Box, Yew, or Holly, with their dark green foliage, are just a few of the shrubs that will provide evergreen structure throughout the year, whether pruned into topiary shapes or not. Choosing a variegated, evergreen leaf can add light and interest. One must also consider the strong, sword-like, evergreen fronds of Phormiums and Aspleniums, the Hart’s tongue fern, and the softer, arching, graceful fronds of evergreen ferns such as Polystichum setiferum. Evergreen perennials such as Heucheras and Bergenias also add interest, colour and structure throughout the year at the front of the border, as do evergreen grasses such as the variegated Carex firma ‘Variegata’.
So enjoy your winter garden, or start planning it!
Anne Fraser and Caroline Streets
Please call Anne 07729 835988 or
Caroline 07930 876348