Ideas for a Beautiful Winter Garden

Read on for tips on how to make your garden extra special this winter.

Plants, Plan Your Garden

The cold weather has arrived and Christmas is quickly approaching. Our gardens may not always look their best this time of year and with a lack of summer colour and life they can end up looking a bit dull and boring.

But winter gardens don’t have to be boring! They can be incredibly beautiful. In fact, there are a huge array of plants that come into their own at this time of year and with a little winter planning we can really make the most of what the season has to offer.

So, what can we do to make our gardens special, at even at the bleakest time of year?

Add Structure to your Garden

Simple structure. Maybe even a hint of formality. An example of this could be a low Box hedge around a small simple rectangle of lawn, which looks stunning, especially with a bit of frost outlining the edges of the Box leaves. Simplicity itself, but lovely.

One of the easiest way to incorporate structure into your garden is by using evergreens – whether that be 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).

But evergreen plants used on mass can be rather monotonous, so you do need plenty of variation – in leaf colour and form, and texture – for example an evergreen lacy fern planted next to a variegated Holly. Or maybe the tassles of a Garrya elliptica against its own leathery leaves.

Don’t forget that deciduous plants also have a lot to offer when it comes to structure. Bare stems and outline of deciduous plants can provide an architectural highlight, for example: Cornus controversa, Japanese Acers, Viburnum plicatum and Euonymus alatus.

Add Garden Features

Garden features and structures come into their own at this time of year. An archway, a simple statue, a bird bath, or maybe even just a collection of pots forming their own attractive mini scene. With a touch of frost or snow when the sun is low in the sky, long shadows and soft light can elevate these features to a whole new level.

Add Colour

Think about adding more winter colour to your garden– this could be from the berries of Holly, Cotoneaster or Pyracantha.

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.

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 planted in groups.

Add Winter Fragrance

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

Welcome Wildlife!

And last, but by no means least, this is the time of year when birds flock to gardens for food and water. And you can design your garden to encourage a wide variety of winter birds. Watching them at your feeders and stripping the berries off plants, is always very special. If you’d like to find out more, read our post on attracting birds to your garden.

These are just a few examples of ways to add beauty and interest and brighten that winter gloom in your garden – there are many more options too, suitable for any garden space. For more plant ideas, read our posts on Lifting the Gloom and Shrubs to Add Winter Sparkle to the Garden.

Photo credits:

Tobias Tullius on Unsplash; x2; A. Barra; “IMG_9689” by RowlandKidman is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0; “Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’, 2018” by F. D. Richards is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0; “IMG_9689” by RowlandKidman is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0; “Kornoelje (Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’) – Parc Floral d’Apremont – Apremont-sur-Allier {juli 2011}” by westher is licensed under CC BY 2.0; Mathias Conrad on Unsplash; Georg Eiermann on Unsplash; Georg Eiermann on Unsplash; “2015-01-07 (07/365) Bird on snowy birdbath” by lundyd is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0; Cotoneaster; C Schneider on Unsplash; Jonathan Billinger; Leonora (Ellie) Enking; “Cornus sanguinea cv. (Winter Border, Driveway – Pershore College) (4)” by je_wyer is licensed under CC BY 2.0; Neptuul; Helleborus x hybridus; Katie Thomas (ALDA Landscapes); “2007 09 10 003-1” by tom00la is licensed under CC PDM 1.0; peganum; Wouter Hagens; Chimonanthus praecox; Pete Godfrey on Unsplash; Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash; Lasse Nystedt on Unsplash

Like what you see?

From planning a new border to a complete garden remodel, we pride ourselves on transforming ideas into beautiful reality, with minimum disruption. If you’re based in or around the Reading and Newbury area, we’d love to meet and discuss your project in detail – book your free no-obligation garden consultation today. We do get pretty booked up, particularly during the Spring, so plan ahead if possible!