Adding winter interest to a garden is not difficult you just need to adapt a different way of thinking. Don’t think flower – think texture and colour instead.
Grasses ooze texture and planted in bold groups either on their own or within a border the effect can be stunning. Add to that a covering of frost or some wind for movement and you have an even more exciting mix. Some of my favourites to use include Stipa calamagrostis, Deschampsia cespitosa and Luzula nivea.
As well as grasses, seedheads make a valuable addition to the garden in winter.
Don’t be tempted to cut back and ‘tidy’ your summer perennials after they’ve flowered. Leave them to add height and structure to the garden as they fade and turn brown with time. Not only will you appreciate them but so will the birds. I think the best ‘dead’ looking plants include echinaceas, eryngiums, rudbeckias and sanguisorbas. I also think hydrangeas can look fantastic as the temperatures drop. Their flowerheads deepen gradually in colour until they become a crisp brown ball.
But the ultimate textural experience in any garden must surely go to bark. The more it peels the greater the need to go over and touch it. Birches make beautiful ornamental trees especially in the winter. Betula albo-sinensis (Chinese Paper Birch Tree) is a must if you have the space with it’s deep copper bark that shines in the sun.