What To Buy For Winter Colour

autumn colour

Winter is the perfect time to wrap up warm, grab a warming cuppa and find a relaxing spot outdoors. But just because the sky may be grey, doesn’t mean your garden has to be. With careful selection, your landscape can be a playground for blooms that love to show off in the chillier months and fill the crisp air with delightful fragrance - one of my favourites is wintersweet which can fill a room with the most delicious fragrance.

At this time of year we rely on structure and form to attract the eye and the bare bones of a garden are there for all to see. Evergreen plants, hedges and trees stand out as strong solid shapes and when snow or frost lights up whispy grasses and seedheads , the contrast is quite magical.

There is no need for the garden to look dull and lifeless. Now is the best time to go shopping because if you see something in the garden centre that interests you now, it will do the same for you every year. Apply that to every month and you will always have something to look at.

While autumn leaves, berries and bark add splashes of colour, grasses give colour, form and movement. Now is also a good time to choose plants for winter effect as most do not show their virtues out of season. Visit gardens and garden centres now to see them at their best.

Here are a few suggestions. All will cope well in our climate with a few exceptions.
* = less hardy and requires some shelter
+ = requires regular moisture
^ = prefers shade

Trees for coloured or textured bark

Liquidamber
Nyssa
Maple - various
Quercus rubra (oak)
Sorbus (rowan)
Cotinus
Prunus
deciduous Euonymus (spindle)
Amelanchier
Zelkova
Gingko
Betula (birch)
Rhus (sumach)
Cercidiphyllum (Katsura) +
Parrotia (Persian ironwood)
Cornus

Hydangea ^

Cotinus

Euonymus alatus

Viburnum

Hamamelis

Fothergilla

Vaccinium (blueberry)

Betula (birch)

Eucalyptus

Acer capillipes
(snake-bark maple)

Salix tortuosa (willow)

Prunus (cherry)

Acer griseum

Corylus 'Contorta (hazel)

Arbutus (strawberry tree)

Cornus

Salix

Rubus

Physocarpus

Euonymus alatus (winged spindle)

Leycesteria
Kerria

Rubus

Rosa sericea

Malus (crab apple)

Sorbus (rowan)

Arbutus (strawberry tree)

Ilex (holly)

Crataegus (Hawthorn)

Euonymus

Chimonanthus (wintersweet) +
Daphne ^
Viburnum
Lonicera fragrantissima (winter honeysuckle)
Hamamelis (witch hazel)
Mahonia
Sarcococca ^
Corylopsis
Forsythia
Edgeworthia *
Sycopsis
Stachyurus

Scented foliage

Grasses

Miscanthus
Panicum
Pennisetum
Festuca
Cortaderia
Sesleria
Stipa
Nassella
Eragrostis
Calamagrostis
Carex
Hakonechloa

Rosemary

Lavender

Melianthus Major *

Salvia (sage)

Prostanthera (mintbush)

Of course there are many bulbs, corms and tubers as well, winter need not be dull. We had Iris unguicularis in full flower on new years day, Galanthus (snowdrops), Narcissus, Eranthus (winter aconite), tulip and muscari (grape hyacinths are pushing up leaves and flower buds. The new flowers on the hellebores are unfurling and although flowering much later there are already rosettes of wild orchid leaves and spears of alliums.

2010 garden and conservatory025