Even the keenest of gardeners will admit to not giving much thought to the garden during winter time. However, with a bit of foresight and a little forward planning its possible to create a garden that will provide something to look at during the winter months.
The garden doesn’t have to be all gloomy beds of levelled plants devoid of colour. If you have incorporated points of interest into your garden design, such as a winding path marked with clipped box or staddle stones, a carefully placed statue or tree, or plants that remain colourful or fragrant in winter, these all come into their own when the rest of the garden is dormant.
It pays to think about shadows and shapes which become accentuated by the sun low in the sky or the silvery carpeting of a frost. The shadows cast by the low sun also catch the details of textured bark and branches. Choose trees such as silver birch or Persian ironwood for their stunning winter bark.
Clipped evergreen shrubs such as box and holly, as well as conifers give structure and shape to the garden during winter. However, even the bare branches of deciduous trees and shrubs can look stunning, especially when coated with frost. Don’t be too hasty to cut back perennials during autumn as some herbaceous plants look as good when dead as they do in full bloom. For instance the seedheads of Phlomis and Acquilegia can create dramatic silhouettes against a wintery sky. Grasses are another plant that provide stunningly architectural interest during winter, as do the upright stems of Euphorbia characias. Leaving perennials to die back in winter can also provide protection for wildlife such as insects and seed heads will provide food for hungry birds.
Using variegated plants in your design will also ensure additional light during winter. Use ivy on upright structures such as walls or a fence and it will catch the rays of the low sun. Euonymus and cornus will also reflect any light in the garden during winter and provide points of interest.