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Winter Interest Project in a Container or Garden Border

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Every day, I can see the sun becoming a little shyer, flowers a little duller and the leaves a little less verdant. After one of the least vigorous summers in living memory, nature is getting ready for its long sleep once more. A gardener's mind is full of the new tasks ahead: cleaning greenhouses, dividing perennials and pruning back roses, ready for the harsh winter. It can be a melancholy time, but we needn't only think about putting the garden to bed. Why not liven things up by adding some winter colour to your garden?

There are plenty of trees and shrubs which get a second lease of life upon the onset of autumn but many of these, such as Rowan and Cherry, rely on producing berries which do not appear during the first few years of life. But there are plenty of options for instant effect.

If you have a small garden, or only want to add some colour around your front door, then make use of vibrant willow colours. The picture is one I made up in the spring with Common Osier (yellow stems) and Goat Willow (Red Stems), but you could get the same effect by planting it now. In the summer, I use the container as a green 'foil' to herbaceous perennials, but when the leaves drop you will get a dramatic 'pop' of yellow and red willow stems. The stems will turn brown if you let them mature, so cut each one back to the base in the spring and more will grow over the summer, meaning that the display will become denser each year. I try to minimise my use of chemical sprays, so the leaves are starting to get a little rust after all this rain. This hasn't stopped good growth over the summer and does not affect my stunning winter display, so I feel better for having resisted the urge to spray. I am always changing my mind, so I like to keep focus features in containers in case I want to move them. I might do a couple of longer containers , or maybe a collection of three containers of different sizes.

If you have a bigger garden, then a snow-covered holly hedge can evoke the atmosphere of a traditional Victorian Christmas. I once saw a holly hedge down the side of a garden, which led my eye down the frosted garden to a wonderful Norway Spruce at the end, which they had decorated with outdoor lights and wooden decorations. It was the perfect image for a Christmas card. I also like how a Silver Birch can look so graceful with its pendulous branches weighed down with snow, or how the fine branches of the Field Maple can seem iridescent in the morning frosts. Winter can be a magical time, and with some well-positioned trees and shrubs, your garden can embrace the beauty of the season.

17 September 2012 at 20:59 / Comment

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