How to keep your garden interesting in the winter

Anyone can achieve a beautiful, colourful summer garden whether it’s a carefully planned herbaceous border or pots of annuals, but to keep your garden interesting in winter and inviting enough to tempt you outside in the cold, that’s a really tricky one! You also want to consider the view from your house, and the rooms that overlook your front and back gardens.

As a basis you need to include a certain amount of evergreens to keep a good overall structure, those that do drop their leaves should have elegant structures, colourful bark or winter berries.

Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ is a medium sized shrub with stems that become brilliant red in winter.

Cotoneaster horizontalis is a climbing shrub with bright berries in autumn to early winter.

Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii has stunning purple berries.

Acer griseum the Paper-bark Maple has beautiful autumn leaves and fascinating peeling bark.

Buxus sempervirens look good all year round clipped into balls, low hedges or topiary.

Try adding another layer to your garden with sculptures, salvages items such as old chimney pots, or sculptural plant supports, that will look good when they are not covered in plants.

Choose structures with interesting shapes that will look good in the winter.

Make use of areas under deciduous trees and shrubs to plant winter flowering bulbs  like snowdrops or hellebores which start flowering in February. One of the main problems with a winter garden is bare earth. Planting densely will help keep areas covered, but if you have to leave and area of earth bare, make sure you mulch to protect it through the winter and it also looks much neater.

And finally, don’t forget to include some winter flowering shrubs such as camellia, honeysuckle, daphne odora and mahonia.

Here are some ideas for winter plants from Crocus

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Late summer colour – plants keep your garden flowering in August

Don’t let you garden run out of steam after the mid-summer flowering season of June and July comes to an end. You can really end the summer on a crescendo of hot colours (like this echinacea below) to hopefully go with the hot weather – fingers crossed. Don’t forget to keep dead-heading to extend the flowering period.

Echinacea

Here are some of the plants doing really well in my garden at the moment… on the left is Phlox Davidii with Penstemon Raven, on the right Sedum Purple Emperor is just coming into flower.

This Echinops Veitchs Blue (globe thistle) is also just bursting into bloom.

Here are some more ideas for late summer flowering plants…

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Best plants for attracting bees into your garden this summer

Diminishing numbers of bees is a real problem – bumble, honey and solitary bees are all in decline. This is down to a loss of habitat as hedgerows and wild flower meadows are all disappearing fast and many pesticides just kill them.

Best plants for bees

Our gardens now need to become refuges for bees, which we need to attract into our gardens to feed. You can do this by adding the right plants. Different bees have different plant requirements, so it’s best to grow the widest range of plants possible for them, over as long a period as possible. You can download a full list from the RHS website, choose some from each month so they have a steady supply. Here are some suggestions for things that are flowering right now…

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Plant combinations – using yellow flowers in your borders

I have in the past avoided using yellow flowers in my borders, sticking to the tried and tested pink and blue pastel colour scheme. Yellow always seemed to appear a bit too brash. But on a visit to Mottisfont Abbey gardens last month I was bowled over by the stunning combinations they use with yellows blues and purples.

Here they have used nepeta, stachys byzantia and salvia with the pale yellow sisyrinchium striatum and lime-yellow achemilla mollis. Looks absolutely beautiful.