Winter has its ups and downs, whilst we’re treated with festive cheer and an excuse to eat all the food we can stomach, we must also suffer cold weather and darkened days. But, while the sun may be dimmed, gardens have never been brighter and here are ten reasons why:
1. Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’
Otherwise known as Red-barked Dogwood, no pun intended, this cultivar has been granted the esteemed honour of Award of Garden Merit, based on its beauty and hardiness despite a very low level of maintenance. Grown in full sun it will yield bright red bark and need only be trimmed once every spring to provide best results.
2. Salix alba ‘Vitellina’
This large deciduous willow will provide flowers in the form of catkins and and pale green foliage, not to mention an imposing figure in the garden as they can reach heights of up to 30m. But the beauty of this tree becomes apparent in winter when the stems take on a deep golden yellow colour.
3. Rubus cockburnianus
Also known as the White-Stemmed Bramble, Rubus is a highly durable upright hedge that is at its best in the winter months, providing an understated purple/white colour scheme on its thorny stems. On a side note, this species also performs as filler for empty spaces in your garden with lush green summer foliage.
4. Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’
Not to be confused with its ‘giraldii’ variant, this violet coloured berry has none of the symbiotic requirements that made the aforementioned cultivar such a tricky customer. Capable of thriving on its own, this vibrant fruiting shrub should be a definite consideration for your winter garden.
5. Pernettya mucronata
This evergreen shrub will perform best in any acidic soil with a bit of sunlight, it is compact and thus not a threat to the early blooming plants of spring and throughout the winter will fruit with large white, red or purple berries.
Pyracantha is a large, thorny, evergreen shrub that will complement the list so far with further crimson, orange or yellow fruit and the promise of white flowers in the summer. They are also a sizeable investment in beauty as they can grow up to 6m tall, but can also be pruned to form a dense, impenetrable hedge.
7. Erica carnea
The beauty of this cultivar, aside from its soon to become apparent aesthetic, is how extremely hardy it is. Able to flourish in almost any soil type or weather, it is a good fall back option. So durable are they, that they will happily flower through snow and frost, not to mention smother weeds whilst only requiring attention every few years. Flowers come in white, mauve or pink and foliage can also range from darkest emerald to lime green.
8. Hamamelis mollis
The Chinese Witch Hazel will provide gorgeous, fragrant yellow, orange or red flowers in the December to February period and thus is ideal for a winter garden and for cutting for indoors. Best to provide a layer of silt or gravel in order to help its root growth by ensuring well drained soil.
9. Mahonia japonica ‘Charity’
Similarly to the Witch Hazel, the ‘Charity’ cultivar of this already popular Mahonia will provide a fragrant dash of yellow to your winter canvas not to mention a brutal beauty with its spiky green foliage. The blue tits love them too!
10. Viburnum bodnantense
Treated to a rich, loamy soil, there are few winter blooms that can match Viburnum’s ‘Dawn’ cultivar for beauty or perfume, bearing tight clusters of pink and white flowers with the bonus of a fine scent.