As the garden dies back in winter, it can start to look a bit bare. But you should see this as an opportunity. While your garden is stripped back to its bare bones, you can put in evergreen structure. It will anchor your summer plants and keep the garden looking strong throughout the winter months.
Evergreens are great as a year-round framework for the garden. Use them to fill gaps in borders and cover boundary walls and fences to keep the garden bountiful over winter.
Plant evergreen shrubs at different points throughout the garden to create anchors. Grow climbers up walls and plant evergreen hedges and trees. Conifers are great for rich foliage and you can even buy dwarf varieties for containers.
For a less formal feel, try bamboo or a tall grass like Stipa gingantea. Play around with height for the best effect.
Rhythm and repetition are important too. Repeat colours and shapes throughout the garden and along pathways to make the planting look cohesive. You can add an element of movement with swishy evergreen grasses, and don’t be afraid to grow evergreens in containers.
Topiary focal points
Topiary is a great plant for structure because it can be made into any shape you like! Good plants include box, yew, bay, ilex and conifers.
Plant topiary balls, cones, spirals or lollipops for striking evergreen focal points. Or if you’re feeling brave, you can create your own shapes. You can cut freeform, but I recommend using a topiary frame, which is a wire mesh shape that you place over the plant as a 3D template. You can even buy animal shapes like chickens!
Use topiary in flower beds as an anchor, or add two plants as markers by a gate or along a path. Topiary of different shapes and sizes also has a great effect when planted together.
Flowers and colour
Evergreens don’t have to be green! There are also varieties that will add rich colour to your garden right through winter.
Conifers come in a range of colours, from yellow to blue. Golden yew has stunning foliage and bright red berries, and looks elegant grown as a column. Variegated ivies are attractive climbers and will brighten up dark corners and shady walls with their mottled leaves.
There are also evergreens that bear colourful flowers. Skimmia is a great winter plant, and has delicate white flowers and rich red berries. Bear in mind that you need a male and female plant to produce berries.
Viburnum tinus is a stunning shrub with shiny green foliage and delicate white flowers from December onwards. Or try winter jasmine for its delicate yellow flowers through winter and into early spring.
And don’t forget winter heather, which comes in white, pink and red. It brightens up borders and containers with its striking flowers.
My top five picks for winter evergreens
- Winter heather
- Viburnum tinus
- Winter jasmine