Winter doesn’t have to mean a dull garden

The cold weather has arrived and Christmas is quickly approaching. This is the time of year when your garden does not look its best – the general view is that gardens in winter tend to be dull and boring. However there are plants that come into their own at this time of year! Here are a few ideas:


Winter structure is a basic element to any successful planting scheme. The easiest way to incorporate structure into your garden is by using evergreens – whether that be for hedging, topiary or evergreen shrubs within borders. There is a wide variety available to suit your garden space. To add a little more interest, consider variegated varieties such as Holly (Ilex) and Euonymus, or the coloured leaves of Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) – see our blog post on Nandina domestica here.


Colour can come from the bark of deciduous shrubs and trees such as the many varieties of Dogwood (Cornus) with stems in reds, oranges and yellows. Tibetan cherry (Prunus serrula) has lovely shiny chestnut coloured bark that gleams in the winter sun.

However, my favourite winter highlights are the plants that give a beautiful floral display. As a bonus, many have a lovely fragrance – not something we normally associate with winter! I personally love Witch hazel (Hamamelis) as a winter highlight with its strongly scented, yellow, orange or red flowers on bare stems. It has an open habit, so does need room, but if you have the space for it, it will not disappoint.

Other shrubs with lovely fragrance (so best enjoyed planted close to a path) are:

  • wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) with its bright yellow flowers on bare branches
  • Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ with its rose purple flowers with variegated leaves
  • Christmas box (Sarcococca) with its sweetly fragranced flowers from late November to mid-February

There are also a few perennials and bulbs such as Hellebores (Helleborus), Lilyturf (Liriope muscari), Snowdrops (Galanthus) and Cyclamen that can give you a great splash of colour when planting in groups.

These are just a few examples of plants to brighten that winter gloom in your garden – there are many more options too, suitable for any garden space.

Image credits: Neptuul, x2, A. Barra, Jonathan Billinger, Leonora (Ellie) Enking, peganum, Wouter Hagens, coniferconifer

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