The trees looking glorious in my winter garden at the moment are Parrotia Persica with large scarlet-red leaves, Liquid Amber, Acer Autumn Glory and Amelanchier lamarckii. Cotinus has wonderful red-orange tints over their red leaves.
Some perennials also have come into their own, such as the vibrant orange of Chinese lanterns and orange blossomed Cosmos sulphurous. Chrysanthemums, sedums and dahlias give bursts of colour among fading blooms. Japanese anemones and Verbena bonariensis are also still doing well.
There some shrubs that keep the garden interesting in the coming months.
Sorcococca (Christmas box) is one of the best garden shrubs for winter. It has evergreen glossy foliage with deep red buds which produces highly fragrant flowers in the winter from February to April. It is happy in sun or part shade in well-drained soil. This is best appreciated when planted near a path or door. It is slow growing and could be planted in a pot. It is fully hardy.
Cornilla is evergreen and has a sweet narcissus fragrance in the winter months from February to May. It prefers well-drained soil in full sun. It is good in windy gardens and coastal gardens. It can be trained on a wall and is also good in containers. It is fully hardy.
The bare stems of Viburnum Bodnantense Dawn is covered with dark buds throughout the winter months. They burst releasing richly scented blooms for up to five months. The flowers are followed by purple berries in summer into autumn as the foliage flushes yellow culminating as a vibrant orange. The branches are great for bringing into the house. It prefers well-drained soil in sun or part shade and is fully hardy.
Grevillea has lovely evergreen foliage and is smothered with clusters of pinkish/red flowers all year round if planted in a sheltered spot. It prefers well-drained soil in sun or part shade.
pa Profusion has strong purple berries which hand from arching stems. The leaves turn golden yellow with pinkish tinges. Plant in full sun and well-drained soil.
Witch Hazel is a colourful winter flowering shrub which flowers for four to six weeks. It comes with yellow and red flowers, which are sweetly scented. It is nice to bring a sprig of it into the house. It prefers neutral to slightly acidic soil and would do well as a small shrub in a container, which can be placed in a less conspicuous place in the garden when not flowering. It flowers better in an open field in full sun, but it will grow in shade and is hardy.
Arbutus Unedo (strawberry tree) is evergreen shrub or small tree which will grow anywhere and is hardy. The leaves are leathery and serrated. It has small, bell-shaped creamy-white or pink flowers which hang in clusters and red, strawberry-like fruits which are formed on the previous year’s growth.
IN THE GARDEN
Now is the time to clear the decks of summer’s faded glory. Old bedding should be cleared away. Clear the soil of weeds before the winter. It will make life so much easier in spring.
If we do one gardening job this season it should be to plant spring-flowering bulbs so as to have something to look forward to. They bring so much an impact, so it is worth planting as many bulbs as possible. A bulb planter can make this job effortless. Mark where the bulbs are planted in case the new bulbs would be disturbed when planting perennials later.
The Hellebores (Christmas rose) can be planted now for beautiful winter flowers
Plant up pots of violas and winter pansies which will flower until late spring.
A hardy variety of Broad beans outdoors can be planted in a sheltered site with free-draining soil for a treat in late spring. Choose a winter hardy variety. This is one of the first crops to be harvested but not suitable for growing in autumn if you have very heavy soil as they do not like soggy soil.
Stake Brussels sprouts and mound up soil around the base to stop them bending over. Keep purple sprouting broccoli covered with netting to stop birds foraging.
Rhubarb crowns can be planted now in well prepared soil. Add plenty of organic matter as rhubarb plants are hungry feeders.
Raspberry canes, blackberries, gooseberries and currants can be planted now. Blueberries can be planted if soil is slightly acidic. Otherwise they do well in a container.
IN THE GREENHOUSE
Clear the greenhouse of finished crops. Any old compost from pots can be brought outdoors and used as compost over ornamental plants in the borders. Once cleared the soil can be raked over and made level. Cover with landscape fabric. Now the greenhouse is ready to bring in tender plants which need to be under glass for winter.
Wash down the sides of the greenhouse with a warm soapy solution with some disinfectant added. Make sure not to splash on any plants already inside. Sweet peas can be sown now for an early display next year. It’s a good time to sow seeds of delphinium, verbascum, foxglove, cyclamen and lupin can be sown in a cool greenhouse.
Sow winter salads such a Winter Gem, winter land cress, purslane and corn salad. If the greenhouse is heated try basil, dill, chives and parsley. Otherwise try them on a warm windowsill.