A Garden for All Seasons
Many of us, if we’re honest, enjoy a spot of spontaneous plant shopping. And we’re most likely to do this when the weather is good and we want to be outside. As a result, gardens tend to be well stocked with spring and summer flowering herbaceous plants but…come winter, none are in flower and most have dropped their leaves or even died right back to ground level, leaving a rather stark space. You may not be sitting in your garden now but it’s going to be your view for several months so it’s worth planning for.
To solve your naked garden woes, here are my 6 top tips for the Winter Garden.
1)Evergreens – Evergreen shrubs, plants, climbers and trees should form the structure of your garden. Some popular, hardy choices include: yew, bay, climbing jasmine (trachylospermum jasminoides), holly, hebe, photinia and box (but this is currently very prone to disease so try ilex crenata).
2) Grasses – No, not a large clump of pampas (this is not the 70s!) but try one of the many other varieties such as miscanthus sinensis morning light or miscanthus zebrinus and repeat for stunning effect. The grasses reflect light beautifully, move with the wind and create beautiful displays when covered in frost.
3) Red Stems – Some plants are grown especially for the intense colour of their red stems which are revealed when their leaves fall. Some ideas to get you started include the acer palmatum and cornus sanguinea (midwinter fire).
4) Plants with decorative seed heads – Many plants don’t need to be pruned until late Jan / Feb. Their seed heads can create fabulous architectural interest and movement in winter. I’m particularly fond of mop head hydrangeas and verbena bonariensis.
5) Garden Structures – If you invest in beautiful plant supports such as wooden or wrought iron obelisks, rose baskets, lobster pots or arches they will take on a new lease of life when the plants they support die back. Some are quite beautiful sculptures in their own right.
6) Lighting – Naturally you can have great fun with Christmas lights but it may also be worth getting a professional installation of permanent lighting to highlight particular garden features. On short winter days you can enjoy the display from inside your home and on balmy summer evenings you can sit out til late.
So, simply get to know your soil type and garden environment, select structural plants that like these conditions and you’re well on your way to creating a beautiful garden for all seasons.
Laura’s Gardens is a Reigate garden design service run by Laura Bedell-Pearce. Laura specialises in small garden redesigns, border makeovers and container planting.