Gardening Magazine

The Winter Garden

By Notcuttsuk @notcuttsuk

The Winter GardenAngelsey AbbeyAt first glance the garden through the winter months can seem uninspiring, the smallest of plants and sprigs of flower can give the most pleasure, so attention to detail is important! Of course, the bare stems and trunks of trees, along with the bleached out skeletons of flowering grasses and spiky seed heads of late perennials form an ever changing tapestry of greys and browns but it is flower and scent that is most welcome through the winter season.

 Although they are growing in a shady area under Birch trees, where the soil is usually quite dry, the handsome, deep green leaves of our Lenten Roses (Helleborus x hybridus) seem to have grown enormously through the summer and now make a striking evergreen clump. Each plant has several fat buds in the base – a sign of the nodding flowers to come through the winter.  This really is a remarkable plant with a very long flowering season. I love to lift the flowers so that I can inspect the freckled centres and the heads look beautiful floating in a bowl of water on a table where they can be admired by friends without having to step into the garden! Of course, if the flowers are left on the plants, star like seed heads will follow and the plants will easily produce offspring that will flower after a few years and surprise you with their variety. We have colours ranging from deep, slate blue to apple green and plenty of whites – with and without freckles!

A couple of evergreens in our shady back garden that shine through the winter are Viburnum davidii, which has made a pleasing low mound of long, deeply grooved leaves and Aucuba japonica ‘Variegata’ (Spotted Laurel) with similar shaped leaves that look like they have been flecked with yellow paint. Both these plants will produce berries if pollinated but with limited room for only one plant of each,  I have settled for leaf interest – if we happen to get any berries due to plants in neighbouring gardens then that will be a bonus!

One winter flowering shrub that is really catching my eye in many gardens is Mahonia x ‘Charity’. The upright growth with tough but tropical looking leaves is attractive throughout the year, but the cheerful bright yellow flower spikes produced now, are scented of Lily of the Valley and are irresistible to bees and an important food plant for them through early winter. Mahonias need a lot of room to grow to their potential, but they make a stunning shrub for part shade and humus rich soil.

As I was clearing fallen leaves from one of my borders this week, I noticed some disturbance in the soil beneath them. Gently moving the soil with my hand, I discovered the first shoots of early Daffodils venturing into the big wide world - a reminder that the shortest day is not far away now. Soon the days will begin to lengthen again and spring will be on the way. I intend to make the most of my winter garden for as long as possible!

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog