Winter gardens are curious and interesting, colourful and berried.
We are blessed with shrubs and trees that bloom even on Christmas day. Sarcococca or Christmas box which flowers true to its name. There is even a tree that flowers at Christmas, Prunus ‘Autumnalis’.There are many plants that flower during the winter months. Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ has wonderful yellow plums on spiky foliage. Skimmia ‘Rubella’ has wonderful deep red buds that open white. Hellebores come in many colours. Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ blooms fresh pink on wintry stalks. Daphnes come alive with wonderfully fragrant flowers.
We can appreciate colour and interest from foliage, berries, bark, shoots, texture and shape.
Evergreen has no limit to colour. We enjoy red evergreens, yellow, silver, rust, variegated and the whole gradient of green foliage. The contrasts between different foliage plants will bring a garden into focus. Photina x fraseri ‘Red Robin’ will illuminate against a ‘Marbled White’ Prunus (Laurel). A bright yellow Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’ will glow against a rusty ‘James Stirling’ Hebe. There are so many wonderful evergreens and they are the back bone of a good winter garden.
Winter Berries Fruits and Seeds
Red, yellow, orange, blue, lilac. Berries come in many colours to brighten up the winter months.The numerous varieties of Ilex (Holly) have as many varieties of coloured berries. They also provide us with prickly textures and are rich in gold silver and green foliage. Pyracantha coccininea (Fire thorn) has electric red, yellow or orange berries. Callicarpa bodinieri (Beauty bush) has unusual lilac purple berries. Cotoneaster and Skimma japonica both strong evergreens have reliable red berries. We must also mention the Pernettya with snow white blood red and rich pink fruits.These require lime free soil but will also work wonderfully in pots. Winter catkins look amazing. The Garrya Elliptica (pictured above) is an exceptional example and a worth while addition to any winter garden.
The Maple (Snake bark Acer) as the name suggests brings a texture and a cool colour. Cornus (Dog wood) is a thick shrub with amazing long slender lush stems. The red bark of a Prunus. Red, yellow and green varieties provide colour and texture.
Winter Shape and Texture
Contrasts created by plants such as the spiky shape of the variegated Phormium or the big limey leaves of the Fatsia japonica or wispy evergreen texture of many grasses take centre stage in winter, because there are fewer distractions to the eye. Definite shape in the form of trees and shrubs is the way to bring mood and character into the garden. The many contorted shrubs and trees such as Corylus Contorta (Contorted Hazel) silhouette magnificently against the winter skyline. A bold tree against the grey sky and the weak winter sun or the fading evening light is nature’s drama. The Betula jacquemontii (Silver birch) is a classic winter tree. A lonely tall silver cluster shrouded in morning frost is a perfect atmospheric winter picture.