Suntrap Garden


Trees and Shrubs in the Garden for Winter Interest

Long nights and short days are upon us.  Most of us will only see our gardens at the weekend for the next few months.  So how can we brighten things up and ensure that our plot does not resemble a driech moor land until next spring?  There are many tricks that we can employ when using plants that will make things a bit more interesting and there is a plethora of worthy ornamental plants to choose from that really come into their own in autumn and winter.  It’s important to remember stems, structure and scent when choosing plants for the winter months.  Try some of the following ideas to enliven your garden:

Plant evergreens

  • Conifers and other evergreen plants such as box, Hebe, Bracyglottis or Viburnum Davidii really give structure to the winter garden.  Most of these plants are easily walked past in the summer time but in the winter they appear to stand out amid the barrenness of the garden.
  • For dark corners choose evergreens that are variegated such as Ilex ‘Golden Queen’, Aucuba japonica and Eleagnus pungens maculate.  The golden yellow on these leaves catches even the smallest amount of winter light and reflects it back ten fold.

Hebe Bracyglottis

Plant for Long Lasting Berries and Fruit

We all like to feed the birds and they are already making off with the red berries from Rowan’s and Cotoneaster’s around the garden.  Try planting shrubs with other colour berries and the birds will leave these alone for a longer time:

  • For yellow fruits try Malus ‘Golden Hornet’, the golden crab or alternatively the evergreen large Cotoneaster ‘Exburiensis’ whose yellow berries stay on the plant in my garden well into March.
  • Pale pink and white berries are produced respectively by Sorbus vilmorinii and S. Cashmeriana, both exquisitely ferny leaved and small rowans.
  • For the craziest, most unbelievable berry colour search out Callicarpa bodinieri with its bright purple fruit.

Callicarpa bodinieri

Plant for winter stem interest

  • Trees with interesting bark include the Eucalyptus group and many of the birches which range from pale bronze through white to almost pink.
  • For shrubs don’t be without the old favourites Cornus and Salix for glorious stem colour.
  • Add a bit of madness with the tortured stems of Corylus avellana contorta or Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick.

Silver Birch Tree

Winter Flowers

  • Many are highly scented in an attempt to attract pollinating insects – so make sure you plant them where you can appreciate the perfume; include Sarcoccoca, Hamamellis and the Mahonias.
  • Don’t forget catkins – the best of which can be found on Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’.

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

Taken from an article written by Ann Burns, Team Leader Horticulture, Oatridge College

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