A carefully maintained lawn will look amazing all winter long – but what else can you plant in your garden for winter interest?
I’m lucky enough to work in gardens all year round. Which means that I get to learn from other gardeners and gain inspiration for my own plot. Spring, of course, brings beautiful snowdrops and daffodils to welcome the warmer weather. Summer offers a riot of colour, supplemented by the buzzing of bees and the fluttering of butterflies. Autumn foliage is breathtaking, but what of winter? What can you plant in your garden for winter interest? Here’ some suggestions gleaned from my travels.
The strong lines of a well-established hedge bring structure to a garden and they help create a micro climate, sheltering your plot and your plants from cold winds.
Whether you opt for the biodiversity of mixed native species hedging plants or the rich colours of an evergreen hedge, the trick is to keep it well trimmed. A neatly sculpted hedge will look far more impressive than a row of shaggy shrubs. Need help to get your hedge in order? Premier Lawns offer a hedge trimming service in and around Belfast. You’ll find more details here.
Evergreens are most often associated with Christmas. Think conifer branches or holly bushes. But their beauty is not confined to one week of the year. Use evergreen shrubs for screening
I’ve always been fascinated by grasses, and between you and I, I’d love to create a winter garden that is all grass. A lovely lawn would take centre stage of course. But it would be surrounded by swathes of ornamental grasses with different heights and growing habits.
An ornamental grass border looks amazing in summer but in winter it takes on a whole new appearance when sheathed in frost and snow
Miscanthus is a great winter grass with swathes of feathery seed heads that sway in the breeze. Take a look at Miscanthus ‘Flamingo’ with its incredibly tactile fronds.
Fountain grass or Pennisetum is relatively short and looks glorious when the winter sun shines through its foliage.
Black Mondo grass originates in Japan. It’s low growing, has strappy leaves and is fantastic at creating texture. Try it in pots and containers as well as in the borders
Winter flowering heathers such as Erica carnea bring a valuable splash of colour to the winter garden. They’re nice and hardy and easy to care for. Plus you can underplant them with spring flowering bulbs for a continuation of colour.
Hamamelis or Witch Hazel has exquisitely delicate flowers that don’t look as though they’ll withstand a frost – but they do.
My favourite evergreen shrub for winter flowers, is without a doubt, mahonia. There are several varieties available, depending on how tall or wide you want your shrub to grow. What they all have in common though are these spectacular yellow flowers.
Mahonia flowers are a useful source of pollen and nectar for winter flying bees. It’s not uncommon for bumble bees and honey bees to stretch their wings on mild, still days and they’re always glad of a pit stop and some fresh food.
Look carefully at my winter lawn care video and see if you can spot my Mahonia.
Foliage plants for winter
Good old Bergenia is always reliable for winter greenery, but if it’s colour you want, take a look at the heucheras. They come with foliage colours all the way from the deepest plum to the most vibrant lime green.
Another great winter foliage plant is stachys or lambs ears. Furry silver coloured leaves provide great contrast with your lovely lawn. And they’re really easy to look after.
You don’t have to rely on leaves and flowers for winter interest – stems are awesome too. If you have room, try planting a group of silver birch trees. They are tall and slim and look almost ghost like on a misty morning.
Cornus, or dogwood, has amazing stems. Depending on the variety they can be anything from lime green to a fiery orangy-red colour. Planted in swathes they give a bright pop of colour. Prune back hard in spring for vibrantly coloured stems in the following winter.