Through the winter months the garden can be seen as lying dormant, however there is another colourful side to the garden you can enjoy during these months from a few plants for which winter is their time to shine.
The first plants that spring to mind are evergreens, and yes, getting colour from leaves is effective and long lasting. Hollies make great shrubs for winter colour, with their golden or silver variegated leaves, and with female varieties a flush of berries through the winter months not only enlighten the garden but can also be used throughout the house as Christmas decorations.
Only female varieties will berry and if they aren’t doing, look at planting a male holly nearby, but it will only need to be within a few hundred metres as the bees do the work! Other evergreens for colour include Elaeagnus, with their colourful golden and green leaves, and Pittosporum “Tom Thumb”, a great dwarf bushy shrub with jet black foliage and new pea green leaves in spring.
And you can’t miss the colour winter foliage of Leucathoes. These are a bit more unusual, but great for shady places being low growing up to 18in. and spreading to 3ft. across, red, green and orange colours throughout the foliage – stunning!
Winter colour doesn’t just have to come from the foliage; many flowers and berries pack an impact, plants including Cotoneasters, Mahonias, Hollys, Callicarpas and Pyracanthas just to name a few. They don’t just look good, but can also attract an array of winter feeding birds like robins and blackbirds and the colours range from purple and red to orange and yellow.
A striking flowering shrub is Mahonia, with its sprays of lemon yellow flowers, sweetly scented and followed by dark blue/black berries. Hammamellis (Witch Hazels) are well known for their citrus scented red, yellow or orange flowers, and they flower on bare stems making them stand out, like Hammamellis Arnold Promise (pictured above). Plant next to each other to get a good contrast between colours.
Sarcococcas (Winter Box) are great for near a path as they have tiny white flowers and bear the sweetest of scents. They’re only dwarf in habit as well, so don’t require much space.
The final blast of colour is from Cornus (Dogwoods), which are great in wet locations where evergreen shrubs will struggle. The stems are electric in colour being yellow, red or orange. Keep them pruned back every other year to encourage strong new growth which bears the most colour, as old stems lower down will fade and turn brown.
Why not pop in and see us over the coming weeks as we have many festive treats in store in The Garden Kitchen as well, including a mouth-watering Christmas Lunch Menu.