Whilst it is true that the days get shorter and colder with less sunlight in December, it’s still an important month for gardening. We find that as the days draw in it’s the perfect time to reflect and plan ahead for the months to come. And whilst you would be forgiven for thinking that winter spells the start of the ‘dull’ season, think again – many trees and shrubs come into their own bringing beauty and interest with them. So, when the weather permits, wrap up warm and get outside and enjoy what nature brings!
Winter is often the time when trees and ornamental shrubs show their full glory. Multi-stemmed small trees with ornamental bark can be planted on their own or in a well-positioned place in a border. A particular favourite is the Acer Griseum. With bark the colour of tarnished copper, this maple is slow-growing and compact making it ideal for even the smallest of spaces. Whilst Autumn brings fiery red leaves, once these have fallen, the peeling bark can be seen to glow in the winter sun.
Conifers are another valuable way to add interest and colour. Many think of conifers simply as a way of adding structure to a garden, but what people fail to realise is that a lot of specimens change their foliage colour in late autumn and winter. These hardy trees like well drained soil in the sun and often change to a vast array of yellows, oranges, reds and even purples.
Shrubby dogwoods such as Cornus Alba and Cornus Sanguinea are often grown for their winter stem colour which becomes prominent after their leaves drop. The stems are perfect for adding colour to winter containers planted with bulbs and evergreen foliage. Dogwoods coupled with Willow often create a winning combination. Those that are grown for their winter stem colour often do better if planted in full sun.
Of course, it’s not just about trees and shrubs. Don’t be too quick to cut back your summer flowers. Sculptural seed heads are often at their most beautiful when covered in a hoarfrost whilst hardy plants like the Hellebore, often known as the Winter Rose, start to flower just after Christmas. perfect for brightening a shady spot all the way through to Spring.