Laura Ashley’s new Autumn Winter 2012 ranges

It’s that time of year again, while you are enjoying the peak of summer, to start thinking about the Autumn/Winter season. There’s something about interior styles for autumn and winter that are so inviting, giving a real glow, and Laura Ashley never disappoint with their super-stylish interiors. The new catalogue is out now, here are some of my favourites…

Moody Hues

Imperial Threads

Flowers in the winter – trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs for winter colour

When it’s cold and gloomy outside, us gardeners need something special to tempt us outside. If you think there isn’t much going on at this time of year then you’d be wrong, there are loads of trees, shrubs and bulbs putting on a great show right now, so make room for some of these in your garden. Plant near a window or entrance to make the most of them.

Some of the best winter flowering trees and shrubs (left to right)…Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ flowers between October to March, Camellia japonica ‘Silver Anniversary’ flowers from January to March, Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’ flowers in January and February, Lonicera winter honeysuckle, Mahonia ‘Winter Sun’ also has a good fragrance and flowers between November and March, another one with great fragrance Sarcococca hookeriana ‘Purple Stem’ flowers December to March.

Here are some top perennials and bulbs to mix into your borders for winter interest. Cyclamen coum flowers from January to March, Helleborus ‘Harvington Double’ flowers February to April, Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ in mild winters this will flower continuously all through the year – an amazing plant, Snowdrop Galanthus ‘S Arnott’ flowers February and March, Eranthis hyemalis winter aconite flowers February and March, Crocus chrysanthus ‘Cream Beauty’ flowers February and March.

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