Whether it’s attractive bark, shiny berries or a splash of colour, there are lots of plants to add winter interest to your garden….
Betula utilis var. jacquemontii ‘Grayswood Ghost’ has brilliant white bark, which glows out in soft wintery light. It’s lovely as a multi-stem and fab underplanted with snowdrops and crocuses.
Prunus serrula is another winter showstopper with shiny mahogany bark striped with lenticels.
Parrotia persica can be grown as a wonderfully sculptural multi-stemmed tree. On mature trees, the steely grey bark flakes off in patches giving interest and texture in winter.
Acer griseum (Paperbark Maple) is a small tree with chestnut bark that peels off to reveal cinnamon coloured wood beneath. Or for a brighter, redder bark, try Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku.’
Clematis cirrhosa ‘Jingle Bells’ has creamy bell-like flowers and evergreen foliage from December. Or for a splash of pinky brown look out for Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurascens ‘Freckles’. Both ideally need a sheltered south-facing wall.
Cyclamen coum are delicate hardy cyclamen with tiny pink flowers and silvery leaves (December to March) that make a gorgeous carpet under deciduous shrubs and trees with ferns and snowdrops.
Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ flowers as early as December – perfect for those too impatient to wait until spring for their daffs.
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ is a shrub that makes a winter focal point with its delicate golden orange scented thread-like petals on bare stems from Dec and March. Great for bringing into the house for a scented flower display.
Winter flowering daphnes such as Daphne odora with its delicate clusters of pale pink flowers will give you a lift on a cold day and Edgeworthia, closely related to daphnes, has clusters of scented yellow flowers on bare stems in winter, for some serious wow factor!
Winter-scented viburnum such as V. bodnantense and closely related Viburnum farreri both have clusters of sweet-smelling flowers on bare stems.
Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ (Dogwood), with its brilliant coral stems in winter makes a wonderful display in a largish group. I also like Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’ which has variegated leaves in summer. Intersperse with gleaming olive stemmed Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’ for more impact or underplant with crocus or bright evergreen grasses such as Carex ‘Evergold’. Prune at least some of the stems hard back each year as young stems produce the colour.
Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ (contorted hazel) has curling stems and catkins that make a lovely focal point in a winter garden.
Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii ‘Profusion’ has clusters of amazing purple/pink berries, which cling to bare branches – bringing a serious wow factor to the garden in winter.
Nandina domestica is an upright airy shrub with spectacular clusters of bright red berries in the winter against purplish leaves.
Ilex aquifolium ‘J.C.van Tol’ is an almost spineless self-fertile holly so has guaranteed bright red berries on dark into winter – or until the birds get at them!
Rosa rugosa roses such as Roseraie de l’Hay are tough useful roses with big red hips into winter. Alternatively R. moyesiii has long orange hips and Rosa glauca is striking with purple grey foliage and red hips – all bringing jolly cheer in the gloomy winter months.