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Plants to grow in Winter

Winter is traditionally when most things in the garden seem to be at their dullest, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. With a little thought and planning there are plants that you can use that will supply both colour, scent and architectural form even in the depths of  the coldest darkest days.

Thinking about how the light falls in your garden or the area that you want to plant plays a huge part to the success to your winter planting scheme, this is particularly important if you are trying to high light some of the brightly coloured barks of shrubs and trees that can be used in planting at this time of year. East facing areas will obviously be at their most striking in the morning as the sun rises, west alternatively as the sun sets.



                    Block planted Cornus                                                                             Silver birch


The white paper like bark of several species of silver birch can be quite striking at this time of year, under plant with dogwoods in groups, Cornus stoloniferia, siberica alba and sanguinea Midwinter’s fire, the contrast of these robust shrubs brightly coloured bark is breathtaking on a cold winters day. Also try Acer capillipes, with its mottled snakeskin like bark, include Acer griseum under planted with golden winter aconites Eranthis hiemali these can provide an excellent food source in February for any bees tempted out by warm weather.

Winter blossoming Prunus davidiana alba can also provide a strong focal point in any winter planting scheme.


Grasses can form drifts of architectural magnificence; golden seed heads glistening on a frosty day back lit by the sun will lend an ethereal feel to your winter garden.

Try blocks of miscanthus gracillimus, pannicum warrior for their seed heads, along with Festucca glauca `Elijah blue` and Ophiopogon Nigra for added colour and low lying texture.



                                                       Frost covered seed heads


There are perennials that also provide colour and can add drama at this time of year, Hellebores also known as winter jewels can be found flowering try Helleborus argutifolius, Helleborus `Niger’ and Helleborus orientalis for spectacular late winter blooms, mix in with Bergenia purpurescens with their ruby red leaves, the effect is warming even on the dreariest of days. Huechera’s in a sheltered spot will also retain their foliage; there are a wide number of them available try Huechera peach melba, Huechera plum royal and Huechera electric lime ,plant them in bold blocks at the front of a shady area and they will give colour and texture not just in winter but throughout the year.



            Huechera plum royal                                            Helleborus argutifolius


 Surprisingly there are winter flowering shrubs and trees that also supply scent to the winter garden, Mahonia japonica gives off an intoxicating scent similar to lilly of the valley , Hamamelis x intermedia `pallida` and Vibernums , tinus, x burkwoodii and farreri provide attractive flowers as well as heady perfumes to welcome you into your own winter wonderland.


            Mahonia japonica                                                                                    Hamamelis x intermedia `pallida`


Finally bulb planting as well there are a small number of bulbs that will flower in winter, plant in autumn for the best results, Cyclamen corms provides the summer garden with attractive green leaves ambled with silver, but it's in winter when it truly begins to perform, adding vivid splashes of carmine pink to the garden. Pools of colour can be created with generous groupings of winter-flowering crocus. From late November to late January, Crocus laevigatus C. angustifolius and C. sieberi ‘Bowles White' bloom. But they are intrepid, too; use robust C. tommasinianus to stud through a winter lawn.



                        Winter flowering cyclamen                                          Winter flowering crocus