Gardens don’t have to look dull and drab just because it’s winter. Plenty of plants come into their own at this time of year, with flowers, berries and even coloured stems bringing gardens to life through the coldest months. Here are a few of our favourite plants for winter gardens.
Plants with colourful bark
Some plants look their best when their leaves have fallen and the beauty of their coloured bark and stems is revealed. Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ (dogwood) and Cornus alba ‘Kesselringii’ are some of the best shrubs for a winter garden, with spectacular yellow-tipped orange stems that blaze with warm colour on cold winter days. Prune cornus hardback in early spring to encourage new shoots with good colour for next winter’s show.
Other trees with brightly coloured bark include Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ (Japanese maple) with vivid red young stems, and Acer davidii (snakebark maple) with striking green and white-striped trunks. Birch trees also look fabulous in winter, whether it’s the gleaming white trunks of Betula utilis var. jacquemontii (Himalayan birch) or the cinnamon-brown peeling bark of Betula albosinensis (Chinese red birch).
Best plants for berries
Plants that bear berries are a must in any winter garden. As well as adding colour, berries are a great food source for wildlife, bringing birds flocking to your garden. There’s no shortage of berry-bearing shrubs to choose from, and here are three of the best:
• Pyracantha (Firethorn) – bears yellow, orange or red berries in winter.
• Ilex aquifolium (Holly) – Female varieties bear glossy red berries provided a male variety is nearby for pollination
• Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldi ‘Profusion’ (Beauty Berry) – perfectly named for the gleaming purple berries that stay on the plant well into winter
• Myrtus communis (Common Myrtle) – Myrtle has been used for thousands of years for fragrance and medicinal purposes
You can’t stop flowers doing their thing, even in the depths of winter. Hellebores, those stalwarts of the shady garden, look fantastic at this time of year, with clusters of flowers in shades from pure white through pink and red to darkest purple-black. Pink and white cyclamens form carpets of colour under trees, together with snowdrops and winter aconites. Mahonias bear bright yellow scented flower spires, and in early spring Chaenomeles (Japanese quince) lights up shady spots with its white, pink or red-and-gold flowers.
Evergreen shrubs are perfect for adding colour and interest during the cooler months. Spruce trees with blue/green hues really take centre stage.
Plants for winter pots
If you’re short on garden space, violas are one of the best choices for winter pots, and they’re available in just about any colour you can think of. Winter-flowering heathers also look lovely in pots, as well as providing vital food for bees venturing out in mild spells.
Colourful heucheras look stunning in pots all year round and make superb feature plants for large winter pots, surrounded by flowering winter bedding. Evergreen grasses like Festuca glauca ‘Intense Blue’ (blue fescue) and Carex ‘Evergold’ also make excellent winter container plants.
So if your garden’s got the blues, visit us and choose from our great range of plants to fill it with colour this winter.