Brighten Up Your Winter

Living Magazines Erica carnea

Give your garden a new lease of life with some simple and colourful winter planting

Once summer is over, most of us stop thinking about our gardens until spring. But get the planting right and you can enjoy gorgeous colours all year round.

Shrubs and Evergreens

Evergreen shrubs are the basis for some spectacular winter gardens.

Cornus, also known as dogwood grow in red, yellow, green and orange,’ explains Berkhamsted landscape gardener Helen Reeley. ‘But cut them right back in late February, otherwise you’ll end up with brown stems. The oranges of cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’ look incredible on a sunny winter’s day.’

The cream and white leaves of pittosporum look stunning all winter long, while hellebores are good long-lasting winter flowers.

‘For colour and scent, try viburnum, which has a beautiful scented pale pink flower on bare stems,’ suggests Helen. ‘Quince, or Chaenomeles, has cup-shaped red winter flowers with a black stem.’


‘A background of shaped Buxus can really bring other plants to life,’ says Helen.

‘Intersperse them with grasses or feathery plumes such as Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’, or choose seed heads such as Echinops, or globe thistle which turn a beautiful silvery brown and glisten in the frost.’

Pots and Containers

Living Magazines CrocusHeavenly bamboo, or Nandina domestica, has red and green leaves with red berry clusters and looks lovely in pots.

‘The Daphne bholua, particularly the ‘Jacqueline Postill’, is a small evergreen shrub with tiny pale pink flowers and an amazing scent,’ says Helen.

‘The sarcococca, or sweet box, has small white flowers all winter and really packs a punch scent-wise. ‘Winter gem’ is one of the best.’

Also try winter heathers, such as the purple Erica carnea, which can be underplanted with winter bulbs, such as Cyclamen coum, snowdrops and crocus.


Look for colourful bark as a stunning centrepiece.

‘The Tibetan cherry, or Prunus serrula, has the most amazing peeling, glossy red-brown bark,’ says Helen. ‘The Betula utilis var. jacquemontii, is a silver birch with a beautiful ornamental white bark and looks gorgeous under-planted with purple and yellow crocuses.’

Bulbs and Flowers

Plant bulbs from October until mid-December.

‘If you’re a fan of daffodils, try a delicate version such as ‘Tête-à-tête,’ says Helen. ‘Mix with crocuses and snowdrops for even earlier colour.