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Winter Planting Inspiration

Posted on 10th March 2016

Winter doesn’t have to be a dull time in the garden. If you choose plant combinations carefully with consideration for all four seasons it is easy to get structure, colour and scent in the garden during the winter time.

If you need inspiration for a winter border there are two outstanding gardens well worth visiting this month although you will need to travel to Cambridgeshire to get to them both.

Anglesey Abbey is a national trust property just outside of Cambridge that has a designated ‘winter walk’ which is now maturing into a most stunning collection of textured and coloured stems, evergreen and variegated shrubs, winter herbaceous perennials, bulbs and scented plants that are planted in large drifts and blocks for impact and demonstrating stunning planting combinations all with winter appeal.

Cambridge botanic garden also has a lovely winter border, on a smaller scale but none the less with some super plant combinations and the glasshouses are well worth a visit too. If you are planning a day out it is possible to fit them both in and really pack in the planting inspiration.

It’s no coincidence that most winter flowering plants are highly scented, plants that flower during the short, cold days of winter need to send their message far and wide to any flying pollinators that may have been woken up by a bit of early sunshine. Plants such as Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ are heavenly scented as well as being neat and compact variegated evergreens. Other excellent choices for winter scent include Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’, Viburnum × bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’, Lonicera x fragrantissima and the exquisite but slow growing ‘Chimonanthus praecox’.

Coloured stems also play a big part in winter decorative effect and the one year old stems of many Cornus and willow varieties give a stunning effect when planted in groups and pruned annually to maintain the young growth.

The catkins of Corylus maxima ‘Purpurea’ have a delicate purple/buff  quality that tremble in the breeze and herald the beginning of the end for winter and the start of the new spring.