Evergreens for Winter Structure

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As the warmth of Autumn colour fades and perennials retreat underground winter can feel a bit flat and bleak in the garden but it really doesn’t have to.

This is the perfect time to plant and with careful selection there are many winter-flowering plants or those with vibrant foliage, stems or bark that can inject colour and scent to beat the winter garden blues.

November also marks the start of the bare-root and root-balled hedging season where it’s most cost-effective to plant hedging between November and March, particularly if you have a large area to cover.  It is the ideal time to transform your garden and get more for your plant budget.  

Where to start? Every garden needs specimen plants and an evergreen backbone to set off seasonal colour so here we focus on adding the permanent structure and height with trees, hedging and topiary.

Introduce focal points
Trees make great focal points to lead the eye around the garden and don’t necessarily have to be evergreen. Several deciduous trees are noted for their bark interest in winter including the bright white bark of the Himalayan birch,the paper bark maple Acer griseum and the shiny copper trunk of Prunus serrula ‘Tibetica’.

The shape is also important in winter and the silhouette of a frosted bare weeping birch takes some beating. There are of course evergreen trees to consider such as Eucalyptus and a whole range of specially trained shrubs on stems that will provide evergreen screening and a focal point in smaller gardens. Instant ‘pleached’ trees give a more formal boxed effect and are ideal for screening and creating avenues to stroll down in larger gardens.

Create an evergreen ‘backbone’

Decorative hedging: gone are the days when hedging was used only to create privacy and mark boundaries. We can also use it creatively within boundaries to establish outdoor rooms and a journey through the garden. Beech, yew and box are ideal for this. Although technically deciduous, beech should hold on to its coppery autumn leaves overwinter which are stunning when the sun shines.


A winter garden ‘must-have’ with the flexibility to suit any setting from contemporary to traditional. Some carefully placed simple shaped topiary such as box balls, holly or yew cones and hedging cubes can completely transform a garden. The more flamboyant Photinia ‘Red Robin’ is also very popular in hedging and topiary forms. Add evergreen winter interest shrubs  such as Mahonia, Nandina, Arbutus and Viburnum Tinus for contrast in colour and foliage.

Our plant advisers are particularly experienced in recommending hedging and screening solutions and can offer all the relevant advice and guidance to help you choose. If you prefer we also offer an ‘At Home’ Consultancy Service where we come to you.