How to Maintain Winter Interest in your Garden

Bella from ThoughtsnLife Blog  recently asked me to share tips on maintaining winter interest in the garden. I am happy to oblige.

Coastal Climate

The following tips are based on my own gardening experiences in Donegal, Ireland which has a very mild but often wet climate, with minimal frost and little snow. 

Trees

If you have space, consider including a tree(s) in your planting scheme. Although my garden is quite small, I have included a Birch tree, a Rowan, 3 Apple trees, and a purple Elder. All of these trees lose their leaves in winter.

However, the birds love to sit on them and sing!

Simply adding a tree and perhaps placing a few bird feeders on it’s branches, will give you endless hours of pleasure during the colder winter months.

 

Rowan, Birch and Apple Trees

Shrubs

Shrubs provide good all year round interest in a garden. I have included the following shrubs as suggestions for winter interest because they are either evergreen or provide berries for the birds or striking stems or a beautiful scent

  • Berberis
  • Cornus (Dogwood)
  • Cotoneaster
  • Daphne
  • Euonymus
  • Hebe
  • Holly
  • Japanese Laurel
  • Photinia
  • Rosemary
  • Skimmia
  • Viburnum
  • Witchhazel
  • Yew

 

Hebe, Photinia “Red Robin” and Holly – all evergreen shrubs

Grasses

I have a few different grasses in my garden, including this golden variety. It brightens up the area around my Birch tree year round, and provides a great backdrop for Primula, Hellebores, Daffodils, Muscari …

IMG_7224

Taller grasses look lovely when frosted, making for a great sculptural effect.

Hellebores

Hellebores provide beautiful flowers in winter. The species below is Helleborus niger “Verboom Beauty.” It flowered from November to February last year.

 

Herbaceous Perennials

The following herbaceous perennials will provide good winter interest:

  • Bergenia
  • Heuchera
  • Pulmonaria

Bergenia will provide large dark glossy leaves, and pink flowers.

Heuchera come in tones of dark purple (seen below), through to pinks and lime greens. They look well in groups of uneven numbers – 3, 5, 7…

Pulmonaria is a particular favourite of mine. It flowers from January, on through spring.

 

Heuchera and Pulmonaria

Winter Bedding

The following bedding plants will brighten up borders and pots, and look great teamed with bulbs:

  • Heathers
  • Winter Pansies
  • Primula

 

Purple Primula and Pom Pom Primula

Bulbs

There are a number of bulbs that flower in winter and spring depending on your climate:

  • Cyclamen
  • Snowdrops
  • Scilla
  • Crocus
  • Hyacinths
  • Iris reticulata
  • Muscari
  • Narcissus

Bulbs look best when planted in a naturalistic manner. Simply throw a group of new bulbs onto the area you want to plant, then dig holes where they land.

Ceramic pots planted with bulbs will also add winter interest.

Pots look best when displayed in odd numbers.

Sculptures and other Garden Features

It is well worth including a few sculptural ingredients in your garden for year round interest.

I have a bog wood sculpture of a flying goose:

IMG_8045

An urn, a bird bath and an angel:

IMG_8202

Wall Art

Buddha and Ganesh carvings (bought in Bali) brighten up my fence:

 

You could also include:

  • Bee boxes
  • Bird nesting boxes
  • Murals…

Recommended Reading

The Royal Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers is a great book to have on hand for planting ideas.  It will help you:

“Choose the right plants for your garden and find all the inspiration and guidance you need with the new edition of this best-selling illustrated reference book organised by plant colour, size, and type.”

Santa might gift you a copy at Christmas!

Questions for Future Posts

If you have any gardening questions, I am happy to feature them in future posts.

Happy Gardening.

Brigid P. Gallagher is a retired natural medicines therapist, passionate organic gardener and author of “Watching the Daisies- Life lessons on the Importance of Slow,” a holistic memoir dedicated to the art of mindfulness and healing from debilitating illness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

41 Comments »

    • Thank you Jacqui. I am very lucky to live in a mild climate. There is always something interesting going on in the soil here. I think we can all adapt our gardening to the local climate, even if we can only enjoy feeding the birds.

      Like

  1. Brigid. This post is absolutely perfect. You are sooo knowledgeable and creative. I have come to realise my garden is may be a 5th of the size of yours. I do have a few bedding plants in the front strip, and one or two at the back. I have never been able to find Hellebores at homebase garden centre. , I do like them. I love the idea if pots and wall art, very creative. I can see my re-reading this for life, cause there is sooo much to do, in the winter.

    Big thank you this post heavenly , just what the garden doctor ordered.

    Thank you so much

    Bella

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ps.. my post on self care has a meditation linked to it. The one on peace , my favourite, the one I share often. I am trying something different with my posts and including meditations in them. Let me know what you prefer. Thanks in advance

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fantastic tips! I’ll have to look at getting some Hellebores for our garden as we’re low on hardy plants this year and most of what we currently have, which looked gorgeous throughout spring and summer, are looking very worse for wear now already. I’d love a bird feeder again – we used to have a bird bath and a few feeders at our old house but we can’t have one here after a cat adopted us (you read that right) and he’s far too keen on birds. Thanks for the suggestions!
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so jealous that you have a year-round garden! Here in Canada, we have to be more creative. Spruce trees remain green all winter. I also had a tamarack at my old place which loses its needles every fall but still provides birds with places to sit while they eat seeds from the bird feeder.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My wife and I decided to rest with the garden this winter. We have a lot of activities that we will not be able to keep up with the garden. We will, however, hire someone who can come in and check the garden when we’re away with our activities.

    Liked by 1 person

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