Winter does not have to make your garden stark and barren, as there are many planting themes that will last the season. A novice gardener would be forgiven assuming that there are only a few plants that can survive the cold, but the reality is there are a vast swathe of flowers that will continue to succeed in these temperatures. With many different options to choose from, in this article, we will outline a series of interesting planting themes to serve as an inspiration for your own colourful outdoor winter escape. Let’s take a look…
Though generally, the cold weather is not the optimum time of year for most flowers, some especially hardy, resilient plants can thrive in the winter months. For example, snowdrops planted in the autumn will start to emerge through the soil no matter the cold, even with a layer of frost or snow sprinkled on the surface of the frozen ground. These white, bell-shaped flowers are often called the early signifiers of the springtime, as they are one of the first plants to emerge during the season. However, if you plant snowdrops during the autumn, you might end the winter with a rich bed of white snowdrops to ease the transitions between seasons.
Winter honeysuckles similarly offer a crisp white flower to match the snowy, winter atmosphere, creating an almost blossom-like effect, adding a pop of intensity during the leafless trees around it. As well as the aesthetic advantages, another benefit of adding winter honeysuckles is that they attract any pollinators still working in the cold weather, helping to give your outdoor space another breath of life and energy.
Investing in topiary hedges is a brilliant way to create a sense of long-lasting structure in your garden, as they will survive the colder months. Shaping and sculpting your hedgerows effectively can help you to frame areas of your garden you wish to draw particular attention to, as well as help to soften the harsher borders of your outdoor space.
Topiary hedges are an outdoor design feature that will look fantastic the whole year around, even in the winter. In fact, topiary hedges look arguably more stunning when slightly snow dusted, meaning they will help to maintain an attractive, ordered garden design despite the extreme weather in these harsher seasons.
One of the frustrations beginner gardeners have with their space is the loss of colour that can occur once the winter arrives, with the richness of summer replaced with the cold, drab tones of the colder season. However, your garden does not have to appear grey and washed out during these colder months, as there are many different flowers that can survive the winter, helping to bring a sense of life and vibrancy to your outdoor space. Whilst snowdrops and winter honeysuckles are gorgeous plants, you may wish to pivot away from the subtler tones these flowers provide, and instead choose something more colourful.
For a richer sense of colour to stand out against your topiary hedges, you can plant pansies, cyclamen, daffodils, winter heath and evergreen trees amongst others, all plants that will last the winter. Additionally, choosing plants with vibrant stems such as Cornus Midwinter Fire Dogwoods can help add a feeling of intense warmth to the cold garden space, and create an interesting focal point to your lawn or planting themes. T
hese vibrant colours will contrast beautifully against the more neutral tones in your garden area, like for example, the pale stone slabs of a patio area or antique coloured composite decking from NeoTimber.
With your garden relatively empty, it is a perfect time to implement new changes that will benefit your outdoor space going forward. In the autumn, you can start to plant new shrubs and trees to last the year, adding a much needed intense green to stand out against the frost and snow. Be selective where you plant these new trees to give them the best chance to grow. For example, planting from east to west will help to make the most out of the limited winter sunshine.
If you still want to cultivate a bountiful crop of vegetables when the cold weather descends, we recommend building small protective structures for them to grow in. These small shelters are a cheap, effective way to cultivate a successful plot without having to invest in a greenhouse or any other expensive outdoor rooms, such as a shed. Instead, simply create a cold frame out of timber with a roof of transparent plastic. This will help to preserve your plants from biting, harmful frost winds whilst still allowing that rich, important sunlight.
An essential part of structuring a garden is making sure there is a good framework to build your theme in and around. As the seasons start to change from the warm summer into the colder autumn and winter months, the leaves will fall, exposing the bare bones of your garden design. Seeing your garden as empty as this allows you to better assess your design ideas, and to try to fill where the gaps in your space are.
As stated, this is the perfect time to plant new evergreen trees in the gaps, but there are other long-lasting winter thriving plants you can invest your time into. With your new trees planted, you can see where these remaining gaps are, and plant bulbs in the leftover spaces. Helpfully, bulbs can be planted at any time of the year, until the ground itself is frozen.
To conclude, with careful research, there are plenty of options for planting themes that will last the winter. From simply reassessing your garden for the next season to adding intense pops of colour to contrast against the frosty ground, the winter is the perfect time to make the most of your outdoor space. We hope this article has inspired you to investigate planting themes for your own garden this winter. Happy gardening!