By Louisa Gilhooly
THERE’S NOTHING more uplifting in the depths of winter than heading outside for a mooch around the garden. Botanic Gardens and National Trust properties across the land have got wise to this idea and are busy developing their own tailor-made Winter Walks – usually a meandering path through shrubs, trees and bulbs chosen for their winter interest. It’s a lovely, uplifting idea, but these grand landscapes don’t always translate well to our own, more modestly sized plots. Besides, it makes no sense to neglect the other seasons.
Here I’ve created a layout and planting scheme that provides real inducement to get out into the garden when the weather is a bit dreary, while offering interest throughout the rest of the year too.
A shot of colour on a cold, grey day livens up your outdoor space immensely. Here a cluster of showy scarlet Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ stems are partnered by the acid-green flowers of evergreen Helleborus foetidus to give a wallop of bold, contrasting colour.
These are complemented by the glossy, burnished-maroon leaves of bergenia ‘Bressingham Ruby’, an evergreen groundcover perennial that produces magenta-pink bell-shaped flowers in early spring.
Garden fragrance also provides a huge boost in the depths of winter. Catching an unexpected whiff of scent during the coldest part of the year is a wonderful surprise that can make a garden quite magical.
Sarcococca ruscifolia chinensis ‘Dragon Gate’ thrives in shade and never outgrows its space, so is perfect for smaller gardens. The tiny white flowers appear December–March and can fill a garden with the most delicious scent. Sarcococca can also be loosely clipped into shape to create repeating forms, making it a useful, and fragrant, alternative to box.
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