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Making your winter garden glow

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This post is all about making your winter garden glow so that you can enjoy your garden all year round. Winter is not a season usually associated with the garden, but with a few carefully selected trees, your winter garden can offer great pleasure, even if you do choose to admire it from inside.

Winter flowering trees are an obvious choice for winter interest and they come in all shapes and sizes. If you have a small garden, you can’t go wrong with the simply stunning ‘Prunus Snow Showers’: as the name suggests, the snow-white flowers cascade down the weeping branches, giving the perfect floral vision of beauty over winter. The ‘Snow Showers’ is also compact, so you can plant it in a large pot on a patio if you’re short of space.

Another small tree, although certainly larger than the ‘Snow Showers’, is ‘Prunus Autumnalis Rosea’. This outstanding tree offers a stunning floral display of semi-double pink flowers that hang from the branches over winter. The candyfloss-pink flowers almost look out of place in winter, but that adds to their ‘show-stopping’ effect and makes them all the more precious.

If you want a truly unusual flower, the Hamamelis, or Witch Hazel, is unrivalled. The flowers are comprised of colourful petals that resemble ribbon and most varieties are scented. Choosing which Hamamelis to plant can be difficult as they all offer such varied colour, but we love the burning red colour of the ‘Hamamelis Diane’ as it adds a firey burst of life to your outdoor space.

You can also get trees that hold their fruits over winter: this has a double benefit of looking great and also being a natural bird feeder during the colder months. ‘Mauls toringo ‘Scarlett’ is one such variety and the glossy scarlet-purple fruits add a wonderful splash of colour over winter. Equally, for fruits that change as the winter months press on, the ‘Cotoneaster Exburiensis’ features apricot-yellow fruits in autumn that take on pink tints over winter. 

Of course, evengreen trees offer year-round interest as the glossy foliage provides a steady dose of colour; you can utilise evergreen trees as backdrops for winter flowering trees, as the flowers really stand out against the foliage. The very large, dark green, waxy leaves of the ‘Magnolia Grandiflora’ make the perfect foil for a winter flowering tree like the ‘Prunus Autumnalis’. If you want colourful leaves, look no further than the Photinia ‘Pink Marble’: this cousin of the ever-popular Photinia ‘Red Robin’ is a real delight in winter as the green foliage is marbled with a vivid pink and white variegation.

Some deciduous trees have a lot to offer in winter, too. In fact, varieties like the Betula ‘Snow Queen’ are widely planted for their stunning bark: the ‘Snow Queen’ has the most beautiful white bark that sparkles and shines over winter. Equally, trees that have an unusual shape or structure can become a fantastic architectural feature in winter: one such tree is the highly unique Salix 'Erythroflexuosa', also known as the Golden Twisted Willow. The corkscrew-like branches are red when young and mature to a golden green colour. To make your garden truly glow, cover the branches in solar-powered lights and admire the contorted skeleton of this distinctive tree.

If you have any suggestions for winter interest, let us know. We always love seeing pictures of your garden and you can post them on our Facebook page.

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  • Michael Simpson