Keep your garden fit during the cold season

We are saying goodbye to the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness and hello to a potential winter chill. Jack Frost has waved his wand and we wake up to shimmering whites and greens, bending frozen stems of grasses, and topiary shapes dusted with frost. To many the gardening is over for another year, and its stay indoors, family time in the warmth of x-factor and strictly. To others (the, it is not the weather that’s the problem but your clothing) it’s a fascinating time of the year, when we are not restricted to the drudgery of grass cutting and weeding (nothing happens much below 7c). Winter can be a time to take stock of your previous year, the time to move now dormant plants, and to take a critical look at your colour scheme. Was it such a good idea to go over the top with those Dahlias, while the hybrid roses were an awful lot of work!!!!

Far from being dormant and dull, winter is when the frame work and core design of the garden is revealed with the structural plants coming into their own. The striking scent of the witch hazel, Daphne and Winter honeysuckle alongside the vibrant stems of the dogwoods and the intriguing shape of the Salix caprea ‘Kilmarnock’ provide a stimulation to the senses like no other time of the year.

There are a small yet outperforming group of trees that really bring added value at this time. Look out for Ornamental crab apples such as Comtessa De Paris’, with its bunches of yellow fruits, while Indian Magic provides bunches of translucent frost hardy clusters like summer cherries. In winter, different attributes of the trees come into their own. The bark of specimens such as  Betula utilis var.jacquemonti ‘Jermyni’ and my favourite , the statuesque Acer griseum, illuminate the garden when the low winter sun catches them and look particularly effective when situated next to a reflective piece of water. The colour of this winter bark can be dramatically improved by a brush and a wash down with warm water, or light pressure wash to remove algae and bring out their true colour. If you haven’t done it before then get out there. You will be amazed at the difference.

If you can still spot that washing line or exposed bathroom of a neighbouring property, or you just want to hide yourself away from THOSE neighbours, winter is a great time to take stock of your peripheral screening, or lack of it. There is a tree out there for every situation  For winter colour try Thuja ‘Autumn Gold’ and Cupressus arizonica ‘Blue Ice’ to keep them at bay .

If you don’t want a frosty reception at the residents association Christmas bash try the slightly less intrusive Carpinus fastigiata, which owes its screening prowess more to the thickness and abundance of its branches than anything else while the river birch, Betula nigra can grow tall but still has wispy branches allowing a little more light for your neighbour not to get paranoid .  You may wish to try Helleborus sternii under any type of cedar, while the silver foliage of the cyclamen contrast well with the white berries of Sorbus koehneana.

If you are more of an armchair winter gardener please don’t hesitate to give us a ring. We are now taking root-balled trees from across Europe for our discerning clientele.


Chris James, Garden Designer

Graduate Landscapes