Not many people go out of their way to create a Winter border when they are designing their gardens. We tend to forget in the midst of summer’s profusion that the winter months can still be interesting in the garden, even if only viewed from the house. Here are some ideas to brighten your borders in winter.
BARK & STEMS- include some trees or shrubs with interesting bark in the garden.
These are all varieties of Birch growing in a beautiful place in Devon on the northern edge of Datmoor called Stone Lane Gardens. This gardens holds the National collection of Birches developed over 40 years, and sells unusual varieties that you would not find elsewhere by mail order. A magical place, and venue for workshops and garden sculpture exhibitions each summer.
Try including shrubs with bright winter stems too such as red or yellow Cornus or the ghostly, silvery Rubus cockburnianus.
Try planting these in a spot that will catch the low winter sun which really helps them glow more brightly.
FOLIAGE – Evergreen foliage gives structure to the winter garden and if it is brightly coloured it will give a zing to your winter borders. Variegated Holly, and golden Conifers are traditional evergreens worth considering, but if you have a sheltered spot then Phormiums with variegated leaves can make impressive focal points.
BERRIES – give great flashes of colour and provide food for birds.
This is Cotoneaster fridgidus ‘Cornubia’ in early winter. Including a rose which has lovely hips after the flowers fade means you get two season’s pleasure for the price of one.
FLOWERS – Flowers blooming in the depths of winter is not an impossibility! This Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis Rosea’ will flower on and off through the winter in milder spells.
Helllebores start to flower in late winter and provide early nectar for bees. Helleborus orientalis ‘Pink Lady’ is stunning.
SCENT – Don’t forget to add some scented beauties to your winter border, or underestimate the power of scent to carry on a still day in winter. I have a Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ by my front door, under the verandah, which begins to flower in mid January. The scent is deliciously sweet and heavy and cut stems will perfume the house for days.
Sarcoccoca (Winter Box) has tiny, unremarkable flowers but the scent is amazingly strong especially when planted en masse. Viburnum farreri has clusters of pretty flowers which start to open in autumn and carries on through the winter.
So next time you are revamping your garden don’t let spring and summer’s riches dazzle you into forgetting to squeeze in some colour, form and scent for winter in a special corner!