We’re not in the garden very much over the winter months, but it’s still really important that it looks great and has some interest. I always think winter is the time when you really see the structure of a garden in all its glory because there’s nothing to distract you.
By structure I don’t just mean hard landscaping, which normally becomes more visible when the summer foliage dies back, I also think of the plants and shrubs that really come into their own.
I often think that our back garden looks it’s best in winter, especially on a frosty morning. It’s a small garden but we do have a silver birch (Betula utilis var. jacquemontii) which has gorgeous shiny white bark that catches the winter light. And we also have a Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’ which has vibrant yellow-orange berries that last well into winter and brightens things up.
But there are two main plants that really hold the garden together and these are the Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’ which look amazing with frost on them, and the other is one of my favourite evergreen shrubs, Nandina domestica which never fails to perform with it’s purple-red foliage and orange berries that last until spring.
We have lots of perennials that come up in the summer, but I love the fact that things change through the seasons and it looks different at different times of the year.
This is a great time to assess the structure of your garden because if its not quite right, it will be much more noticeable. Take some images and make notes so that you can address any of the details in the spring and plant new things.
Or, if you’re thinking of planting some trees, it’s a perfect time to get cracking. I’ve written about bare root season many times before but, as a reminder, it’s during the winter months that trees, roses, hedging and some shrubs can be brought bare-root (literally with their roots bare of soil). There’s much more choice available and you get a lot more for your buck.
If you’re looking for inspiration then you may want to visit a few gardens that have winter interest. The Sir Harold Hillier garden in Romsey has a fabulous winter garden with shrubs and trees that have amazing bark and scented flowers.
It’s also a great time to visit gardens such as Sissinghurst where the structure of each “garden room” is held together with brick walls and clipped hedges. Sissinghurst has great examples of how to train wall shrubs and climbing roses at this time of year because the bare stems are much more visible.
(Images: Lisa Cox)