During the unpredictable challenges of 2020, the inevitability of the changing seasons provided me with a great deal of comfort.
However, as the darker nights cut short the time that I could normally spend in the garden, I have to admit a sense of sadness when Winter approaches.
With this in mind I have decided to try and develop a corner of my garden into a bed of winter interest; a part of the garden I can gaze at from the warmth of my kitchen window, preferably with a mug of something hot in my hands.
Planting the winter garden
Here is how a featureless corner of my garden started out. This was the closest spot to my back door and therefore a great area to plan a winter view. I wanted to bring some form and structure, scent and colour to brighten up those dull wintry days.
Using the garden hose, I marked out the curved layout of the new border. I wanted it to reflect the curved border I have on the opposite side of the lawn, to lead the eye up to the back section of the garden (which is a whole other project). Using a lawn edger I cut in the perimeter shape, then scored squares into the grass about 30cm x 30xm across the whole area, so it resembled train tracks. This makes it so much easier to lift the turf bit by bit. Once the earth was dug over, I dug in some multi-purpose compost, ready for the fun part – planting!
My plant ingredients…..
Tibetan Cherry Tree
Cornus Winter Flame
The top layer of the winter scheme started with the Tibetan Cherry Tree. This is a small deciduous tree, with Spring time white blossom and fruit in the Autumn. For Winter interest, I was attracted to the distinctive shiny coppery-brown bark, which just gleams in the winter sunshine.
I added Cornus Winter Flame to this layer. The deciduous shrub is covered in green foliage during summer, then the leaves turn to a fiery red in the Autumn. It is often grown for its colourful winter stems, I hope to see the contrast between the bright red stems and the Winter snow.
Finally for the top layer, I chose a Daphne Odora “Aureomarginata”. In January it offers clusters of sweetly scented pink flowers, with luscious green leaves. It is an evergreen shrub, perfect for the Winter border.
The middle layer of my plant list are a little more compact. The Hellebores were already hiding in a different part of the garden, not very visible from the kitchen window. I therefore brought them forward to join the Winter party.
For more pinky colours, I included a Hebe, which has an abundance of dusty pink flowers as Winter approaches.
Two or three evergreen shrubs have added some structure.
The little Iris are dwarf plants so are nestled at the front of the border and will offer a bright blue chorus, sheltered beneath the larger plants.
I have a love for Scotland, so Heather is another plant which I have dotted around the garden, to remind me of my Scottish travels (if you haven’t watched the series “Outlander”, I can highly recommend it)! I moved a winter flowering variety I had in the front garden round to the new Winter patch.
Finally, is the cyclamen flowering throughout the Winter and into early Spring.
The finished patch needs time to grow, but through winter the Hellebores have bloomed and the Daphne smells amazing. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Cornus fills out in the next couple of years.
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