Winter is never kind on our gardens. When you’re finished sweeping up the leaves, it often happens that you look around to see there’s not much more than the weeds growing. But that doesn’t mean that you have to give up and abandon the outdoors until the first signs of spring.
There are, of course, things that you can do to prepare the garden for the next season, but surely it’s far better to find ways to keep it looking lively throughout the winter months.
After all, looking out on a delightful wintery scene on Christmas day will be worth the effort and all the reward you need for your investment. All you need to do after that is to keep your fingers crossed for a white Christmas, or at least a light dusting of snow.
With that picturesque image in mind, here are our five tips to create a garden that looks great past Halloween and Bonfire Night.
1. Go for reds and oranges
When the greens die off, it’s time for the reds and oranges to come into their own. Witch Hazel is the best of these shrubs by far, coming in a variety of golds, oranges, reds and yellows, with its flowers able to survive the worst of winter’s ravages. They prefer neutral soil, so do test your soil if you’re not sure whether it’s acidic or alkaline. Holly bushes will also add that wintry splash of red, with the bonus of providing material for home-made decorations.
2. Embrace silver with the silver birch
There’s no getting around the fact that some of your trees are going to be bare through the winter. But why not buy trees that look as good without leaves as they do with them? The Silver Birch is one such tree – looking great when it’s stripped of its foliage. White and silver barks provide a great wintry backdrop even before the snow comes and they look even more fantastic when it does.
3. Be evergreen
Evergreen shrubs and trees will keep the garden looking lively during the winter months. They can also provide structure, which is often lost when other plants die back. Some box shrubs and yews placed in formation around the rear of your home will create a pleasant scene from the back door. You can also plant the Christmas tree if you get one with roots on. Why not decorate one outdoors and one indoors?
4. Tidy up
Debris and mess look far worse in the garden in winter, so make sure you continue to weed, pick up and sweep up on a weekly basis. Your garden may look sparser than usual during this time of year, but that doesn’t mean it can’t look classy. If you have furniture that you leave out all year round, then make sure you clean water off it regularly and tidy away cushions.
5. Give yourself a Christmas Box
Sarcococca is a Chinese evergreen that grows berries amidst its dark green foliage. So far so good you may think, but this plant is also commonly known as sweet box or Christmas, as this is the time of year that you’re most likely to find its creamy white flowers blooming. They like to grow in the shade, but wouldn’t dislike a bit of winter sun reflecting off the snow should we be so lucky.
And don’t forget to prepare your home…
With winter coming, there are plenty of other jobs that you will need to keep your eye on too. You’ve probably already cracked and put the central heating on, but it’s worth getting the boiler checked and serviced to get you through the winter incident-free. You may also want to get a roofer in to check over the roof tiles, secure any TV aerials or satellite dishes and clear out the gutters to prevent blockages leading to leaks and roof damage.