Over the last few years we have worked hard planning to make our garden look and feel good all year round. So today I took a wander with camera in hand to see how well we had done so far. See what you think. Are we getting there?
Of course flowering bulbs come into their own at this time of year and we now have a wide selection of crocus, muscari, miniature narcissi and Iris reticulata throughout the garden. Grasses are of equal importance but only recently have they been accepted as an essential element of the winter garden. The first photo shows how well our Pony Tails Grasses contrast with the foliage of Hebes. In the second crocus team up with grasses to create a great combination of colours and textures.
A have a soft spot for celandines, enjoying the glossy yellow native plant that lights up our hedgerow bases as well as the cultivated bronze leaved Brazen Hussey and the “Giant Celandine” in the photograph below.
Euphorbias are another of those families of plants that are all year round essentials in our gardens but at this time of year their new bracts glow on overcast days. Foliage is perhaps more important than flowers in the winter garden as it provides variations of colour, pattern and texture. Phormiums, Heucheras and grasses are most effective.
Scent can play its part as it pervades the calm air and delights us as we wander with the thought of brighter warmer days. Daphnes, Sarcoccocas, Cornus, Mahonias and Viburnums all perform well in our garden.
Textured bark on our trees in our Spring Border looks especially good in winter light. The peeling orange bark of the Prunus serrula and the birch is like slithers of brittle toffee.
Hellebores star in most gardens in winters since so many wonderful easily grown specimens have become available in most garden centres and nurseries.
Here some of our many hellebores are twinned with coloured stemmed cornus and salix.
Any flower brave enough to appear in the winter is worthy of mention be they primulas, witch hazels, pulmonarias or bergenia. They would perhaps seem quite ordinary if they flowered among the stars of the summer garden but in the winter they are extraordinarily good garden plants.
A recent discovery is the shrub Drimys with its red stems, glossy green foliage and buds looking fit to burst into life.
Structures such as our cloud pruned box hedge that lines our central path become much more important and noticeable in the emptier garden of winter. But we hope our garden is now richer in this the coldest and darkest of our seasons.
We must not forget the role our feathered friends play in adding colour, sound and movement to our garden in winter.
Part Two of our search for the all year round garden will consider our garden in Spring. Signs of that season are already giving hints of what is to come such as in the buds of the quince fruit tree.