Colour in your garden in winter

The recent onset of cold weather and the first frosts make it obvious that our gardens will not be awash with colourful flowers for the next three months but that does not mean that you need to look out a dull, empty space throughout the winter.  You just have to look beyond flowers to what else plants can offer.

Acer photo

Coppery, flaking bark & last autumn leaves of Acer griseum

Autumn had an obvious solution, trees and shrubs whose leaves turn blazing red and yellow before they finally fall.  Once into winter though, what are we left with?  Winter bedding in the form of Cyclamen, Pansies and Heathers (please not spray-painted!), can brighten up a pot by your front door but that still leaves the permanent beds and borders. The natural cycle of plant growth in our temperate climate means that gardens will not be filled to overflowing with soft, lush, blousy growth in winter, but we can have a good structure of woody and evergreen plants forming the skeleton of a border.  Chose these carefully and there will be bright colours in your garden all winter.  Here are a few suggestions that will grow happily in normal border soil and sun or light shade.

Evergreens: most obvious are the shrubs with variegated leaves such as Euonymus ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ or for a bigger space Elaeagnus ‘Limelight’.  Both these have bright yellow splashes on the leaves.  Heuchera are perennials that keep a mound of leaves in all but the hardest winters.  And recently the range of foliage colours has exploded offering everything from fluorescent green to almost black and every shade of red in between with or without variegation.

Stems and bark also provide colour, we have probably all seen bright red Dogwood but there are others. Some Willows also offer red, yellow or orange stems and respond well to hard pruning to limit the size. Acer griseum the Paperbark Maple and cultivars of silver and white Birch are grown for their beautiful bark in winter especially if they are planted to catch low winter sunlight.  Both suit a medium sized garden.

So cheer yourself up this winter with a striking and colourful garden.