Gardening Magazine

Plants for Winter Interest

By Notcuttsuk @notcuttsuk

Mrs McGregor and I try to use the garden throughout the year and on sunny, winter days we will sit with a cup of tea and appreciate the sweet scent of winter shrubs and bold shapes of the evergreens that come into their own while much of the garden is a jumble of twigs and dead leaves.

One area of our back garden needs a revamp. Some Day Lilies have never thrived there, making lots of leaves but producing few flowers. I do love Day Lilies but have to admit defeat; our back garden is too dry and shady for much of the time, whilst the front is too hot and again very dry in ‘normal’ years!  We have decided to replant this area with Tulips and Wallflowers for the time being, but I would like a scented winter shrub to go there as well.

Through the winter, the sun only gets to this area for a few hours in the afternoon and there is a wooden fence behind, so something upright and slow growing will fit the bill. I have decided on a winter flowering Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ – several of our neighbours have them, so there is a chance that it will do well. Of all the families of plants, Viburnums have to be one of my favourites. They are stone hardy and come in a huge variety, some evergreen and some deciduous with beautiful autumn colours, some spring flowering, some early summer and some, including V. x bodnantense that flower through the winter months when there is little else around. I just wish I had more room to grow some of the bigger varieties that will eventually make small trees!

We have three varieties of Dogwoods (Cornus) in our garden and they never fail to please through winter with their coloured stems that add an upright accent to the borders. Last spring I pruned the green stemmed C. sericea ‘Flaviramea’ hard back to the base and with all of the rain the plants are enormous again! I can’t wait for the green leaves to turn yellow for autumn – they will really show off the big purple Phormium (New Zealand Flax) planted behind them and in turn, this will  highlight their bare, olive green stems through the winter.

Our established Arbutus unedo (Killarney Strawberry Tree) also comes into its own now with hanging clusters of white flowers that appear in October and November along with the ripening ‘strawberries’ that are edible but taste quite insipid! This really is the hardiest of evergreens and my friend, Tricia Trelawny grows it in her exposed coastal Cornish garden where it stands up to the salt laden gales.

When we visit our local garden center we never come away with just one plant and as well as the Viburnum, I bought some winter flowering Heathers to brighten up an area near a large Pine tree. They are always so reliable, producing their waxy, bell shaped flowers for months and just needing a light trim after flowering to keep them tidy. As well as being attractive to late and early foraging bees, Mrs McGregor likes to pick them for her winter arrangements.

Happy Gardening!

Mr McGregor

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