As we move into winter and the colour and exuberance of summer are left behind, your garden can feel a bit forlorn. Many plants become dormant and, particularly in Scotland, things can seem a bit dull and lifeless. This, however, need not be the case. With a bit of planning and careful plant selection, you can have a garden that will be of interest all year round.
The Caley maintains a Winter Border at Saughton Park. The border looks good all year round but really comes into its own in the winter. Most town gardens do not have the space to have a solely winter border but by incorporating some of these types of plants into your existing borders, you can have a garden that offers something of interest in every season.
Whilst they might not give the big splash of colour that summer flowering plants do, there are a number of plants that flower in winter. Hellebores come in a wide range of colours and do well in shady areas.
Viburnum x bodnantense produces masses of small pink flowers on bare stems and has an incredible scent.
Hamamelis come in colours ranging from the palest yellow through to an orangey-red and with their strange, almost alien looking flowers and spicy scent, they are sure to be a talking point in your garden.
The dogwoods also add colour to your garden in winter but not with their flowers. The bark on young stems comes in a range of colours and can provide a colourful backdrop for other plants. A favourite is Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ with its bright red stems.
The winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, is a useful shrub that can be trained up a wall or fence and has golden yellow flowers. Colour can also be brought in by using plants with berries – evergreen cotoneasters come in a variety of forms and have bright red berries; pyrancanthas are useful wall-trained plants and have berries in yellow, orange and red. Or why not go for something slightly more unusual? Callicarpa bodinieri, the aptly named Beauty Berry, is deciduous and has fantastic bright purple berries.
Evergreen plants come into their own in the winter months like Sarcoccoca confusa, an evergreen with tiny white, almost invisible flowers which has a lovely, sweet smell.
Evergreens are useful in every season of the year, providing an excellent backdrop for other plants. Do not be fooled though into thinking that evergreen plants are just green: Euonymus fortunei “Emerald ‘n’ Gold” will brighten up a gloomy winter garden with its golden glow.
Conifers are, of course, perfect for a winter border. They come in a variety of shapes, colour and growth habits. Do take care however, to buy one suitable for your space – even those labelled “dwarf” can grow into large plants, albeit slowly.
No Scottish winter border would be complete without a few heathers. They give colour all winter long and also do well in pots and planters. Why not pot up a couple of planters and place them near your door so that you have a burst of colour to greet you?
The Caley have chosen plants that do well in the Scottish climate and are hardy in our winter weather. Most are easily available in local nurseries and will enhance your planting schemes, so if you are looking for inspiration for your garden this winter why not visit Saughton Park?
The Caley Winter Border was planted thanks to a grant from the Stanley Smith Trust and to donations of both cash and plants from Caley members for which we are very grateful.
The Caley is always ready to welcome new members and offers a wide range of benefits to encourage you to join. From workshops and classes to talks and trips there is sure to be something to interest anyone in Scotland with a love of plants and gardening. Find out more about how to join Scotland’s National Horticultural and Gardening Society on their website.