Designing a Winter Wonderland.
Our Director of Landscape Design Mark Latchford gives his insights on designing a winter wonderland garden.
Early in my career, I was lucky enough to work for a renowned landscape company, whose lead designer once told me we spend 75% of our time looking out at our gardens from indoors, rather than in them. This maxim has always stayed with me, and I encourage my clients to consider the views their outdoor spaces give them from their windows – what they will enjoy looking out onto, what will draw their gaze out to their green spaces.
This is equally true for the winter months as it is for spring and summer, and even though many plants become dormant and gardens are at risk of looking untidy, planning for wintertime within your whole scheme will give plenty of interest, surprise and pleasure across the colder months as well.
I think about a winter garden in the balance of colour, structure and texture. The human eye picks up more shades of green than any other colour, and curating a mix of evergreen plants and shrubs with contrasting hues from limes to olive greens, will continue to give a brightness and richness to your beds and borders. Alongside some pops of winter flowering and winterberry plants, your garden will still feel alive and thriving in a beautiful palette of greens, whites, and rubies.
Think about the structure and stems of trees and shrubs that will stand tall as others die back. Topiary – the art of pruning and training shrubs and trees in height and shape – will keep a framework and elegance to your garden, and low winter sunlight filtered through the leaves and branches on a frosty day or a dusting of snow atop the plants, can look spectacular. There are a wide variety of options, with Yew a popular choice for their dense foliage, adaptability to shape, and flexibility to grow in containers too.
Plants for Winter Interest
Sarcococca confuse “Sweet Box”
With shiny, dark green leaves and growing to 1 metre height, this plant flowers from December to March with delicate, highly-scented white flowers followed by glossy black berries, making it ideal for borders, hedging, edges to paths and by entrances to homes.
Pinus Mungo ‘Winter Gold’
A hardy and low growing coniferous evergreen shrub with needle-like leaves that grow in bundles. This is now becoming a contemporary alternative to Buxus balls and is great for borders.
Tilia “Winter Glow”
A lime tree which gives year-round interest. With deep green leaves and fragrant ivory flowers in summer, it really comes to life in winter, displaying fiery red-orange stems and scarlet red buds which are a wonderful bolt of colour even on gloomy days.
Fatsia Japoinca, “Spiders Web”
A bushy evergreen shrub, with white-fringed dark green leaves as if already dusted by snow. It gives clusters of white flowers in autumn followed by inky black berries across winter.
Hamamelis, “Witch Hazel”
A deciduous, easy-spreading shrub, which, after the oval leaves have turned bright yellow and fallen in autumn, produces delicate, spider-like fragrant yellow, orange or red flowers along its bare branches.
Decorate Your Garden
Adding a garden sculpture or water feature will give you both visual and aural sensory interest. There are many beautiful stone or metal options and a well-placed piece will become a striking element of the garden, capturing the eye from indoors and providing an ever-changing landscape across the changing winter days’ light and shadows.
Designing for a glory of colours across fragrant shrubs, berries, seedheads and dense foliage, is a great way to support the local biodiversity. These plants will be a valuable source of food to birds and insects and offer shelter during winter months. In return you will have much viewing pleasure, with birds such as robins, starlings, and blue tits visiting the garden, even if you are snuggled inside looking out.
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Whether you’re looking to transform your outdoor space or design an imaginative new build home or extension that links seamlessly to the surrounding grounds, we can work with you to create a space that is unique to your property and lifestyle.