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How to create a beautiful winter garden

Published: 27/10/2021

With the nights drawing in, it's time to make a beautiful winter garden and get through the darkest months with a garden packed with colourful perennials, grasses, and elegant evergreens. When winter is well into its stride, your garden won't lose its mojo if you follow our tips.

Winter gardens can be elegant, full of arching grasses, crisp evergreens, dramatic seed heads, and flowers to lift your spirits. The tradition used to pull up summer bedding plants and replace them with bare-root wallflowers or winter pansies. But today's busy Londoners chose perennials that stay put for years and gracefully change with the seasons. Even in the depths of winter, if you pick the right ones, they can be beautiful.

Give your garden a backbone of evergreens, with box cubes, euphorbias, grasses, and ferns, and then plant lots of bulbs like crocuses, tulips, and alliums to poke up through them.

You'll love it because you'll get a real sense of the changing seasons.

GO FOR GRASSES

Autumn is the best time for ornamental grasses with their feathery flowerheads and leaves that rustle in the breeze. They have a handsome presence.

Use low-growing evergreen moor grass, switchgrass, and pheasant's tail grass.

Create drama with much bigger Chinese silver grass (that turns toasty brown in winter with tall seed heads. All are cut to the ground in late winter to sprout new green leaves all over again.

INCLUDE EVERGREENS

Gardens without evergreens go into a slump in winter.
Spheres and blocks of box or yew are great foils for swishy grasses and dried seed heads. Use clumps of mellifera, euphorbia martini, and box cubes. Plant en masse the evergreen male shield fern, and its intricate leaves are stunning when covered in frost.

SEEDHEADS AND STEMS

Leave seed heads that seed gracefully as they look beautiful covered in frost or snow or when the light hits them, and they'll attract finches.

Plant persicaria and giant hyssop flower all summer into the autumn and fade to perky drumsticks.

Sedum livens up autumn borders with pink flowerheads and later ages to a delectable caramel.

CITY PLANTS

Hellebores are great city plants, flowering early December right through to spring in tones of pink, creams, purple-greens, or burgundy, always stylish, never brash. For planting in the ground, use the white variety, and they pack a punch of joy and look fabulous against the grasses.
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