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Design Winter Garden

Flowers can come and go, but plants that offer colour and texture with their bark, stems and foliage have a more enduring appeal; even leaves that are deciduous can last a good while through the seasons.

In most gardens space is at a premium. So plants that add interest in more than one season are welcome residents. The key to success is to fill each position with plants that will thrive in the growing conditions there; whether sunny and open, shaded and wet, dry and stony, acid, neutral or limy. Choose plants that linger into the autumn, start in early spring, or are at their best in the winter in addition to the summer stars in order to obtain all-year-round interest.

When you design your garden, if you use tall and broad structures as a starting point, the rest of the garden can then be formed around them. Trees and shrubs give height and lower-growing species can spread out between them. The garden is inevitably more colourful in summer but when the autumn leaves disappear, the view from the house is longer and the bare bones of the garden are exposed. If a garden is designed to look good in the winter, it will never completely lose form, colour and interest.

Start building the structure of the garden with evergreens. They can produce green focal points in a garden. You will find they can have silver, purple, cream, gold and bronze foliage as well as green.

Conifers come in many different shapes and hues. Yew also has red berries to add more colour. Piceas have an attractive texture. Creeping junipers are useful to create ground cover. The dark colours of conifers can also offer a wonderful backdrop for jewel-coloured tulip flowers in the spring.

Other garden features become more prominent in the winter too, such as statues and sculptures, urns and benches and of course waterfalls. They may be partly hidden by foliage in the summer but take on a more dominant role in the winter garden so make sure they are placed well. Box topiary will also remain green in the winter and looks especially interesting when covered in snow.

Otherwise, plants can be grouped in pots to create a display that is easy to look after. Green plants such as rosemary can be mixed with flowering plants such as cyclamen. Plants that thrive only in one specific type of soil, like pieris, can be grown in pots too. Willows are in leaf for a very long season but their roots can be invasive which will prove to be a problem in a small garden. A smaller variety like a corkscrew willow can be confined in a large, decorative container.

Some plants that flower in the winter months have very muted colours. These dusky colours often suit winter light. You may want to group these together: skimmias, heathers and sedums for example. The colour of spring flowers are often much brighter. If you don’t like the clash of the bright yellow of daffodils with these dusky tints then make sure they are not planted together.