How to make the most of your garden this winter

Plants to make your garden glow this winter

With a bit of forward planning, your garden can look as colourful and attractive in winter as it does during the rest of the year. Here’s how…

Winter garden

Without enough love, gardens can look a bit desolate in winter – stripped of colour and greenery. But with a bit of planning, there’s plenty you can do to make your garden as attractive in winter as it is during the rest of the year.

Winter plants

Finding the right plants for your winter garden may mean looking beyond your typical border choices. But the good news is that the plants which thrive during the winter months are often scented and more shade tolerant – giving extra richness to your garden without requiring excessive care.

What’s more, some of them are adaptable to life in containers, so you can change the centre of attention according to the season. And with the new sights and scents of these prized plants, your winter garden will come into a life of its own.

Making the most of your winter plants

Winter plants provide a range of attractions – from flowers to scents, berries, coloured stems and dramatic evergreen foliage. To get the most from plants with fragrance, position them near doorways and entrances to provide some added cheer in the depth of winter.

As some of these plants are not as attractive in summer, you may want to plant them in containers so you can change their location throughout the year – we recommend using loam-based compost like John Innes No 2.

Choosing your garden plants

Remember that the height of a plant may vary depending on its conditions – and that shrubs may take years to reach their final height. So when positioning shrubs, consider their eventual size. It’s also wise to plan your plants so they’ll flower at different times, making sure your garden looks great throughout the season.

Scented shrubs: Abeliophyllum distichum produces fragrant white flowers in February and grows to a height of two metres, while Hamamelis × intermedia has scented yellow or orange flowers between December and March and can be up to three metres tall.

Evergreens: Arbutus unedo AGM flowers are white or tinged pink, and bloom between October and December – with a maximum height of around six metres. Elaeagnus pungens ‘Maculata’ (v) AGM offers small, silvery white flowers between October and January at a height of between two and four metres.

Climbers: To decorate bare garden walls, Clematis cirrhosa var. balearica AGM produces cream spotted red or maroon flowers from November to March and can reach up to four metres tall. To complement this, Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’ AGM blooms with lovely cream flecked maroon or violet flowers from November to March, reaching a similar height.

Bulbs: For ground-level plants, you can choose a range of colours – from the yellow flowers of Eranthis hyemalis AGM in January to March, to the white flowers of Galanthus nivalis AGM between January and February and the pale blue flowered Scilla mischtschenkoana ‘Tubergeniana’ – which also blooms in February.

Five top winter plants to brighten your garden this winter

Here are our five favourite winter plants to get your garden going. Happy planting!

  • Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca
  • Helleborus niger
  • Mahonia × media ‘Winter Sun’
  • Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna
  • Stachyurus praecox