How to … add interest to your winter garden.

As the leaves fall and the growing season slows to a close, time spent in the garden may seem unappealing in the months ahead. Here are 5 ways to add some interest and encourage you to linger, cup of soup in hand, in your winter garden 1. Add a birdbath or bird table   We may all have retreated indoors but birds will appreciate a regular supply of food and water. Birdbaths can look decorative too, throughout the year. And you’ll enjoy watching their antics from your kitchen window.

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Vintage birdbath

Regular bird visitors will become old friends by springtime. June July 2013 099 Just remember that the birds will come to rely on a regular supply of food and make sure that the birdbath is free of ice on the harshest mornings.

2. Scented winter flowering shrubs. Planted by your patio or door, scented shrubs will encourage you outside to appreciate them . Cut  a few branches for lovely fragrance indoors.  A visit to your garden centre now should give you some ideas.

Key plants:

  • Hamamelis x intermediaWitch hazel – delicious scented yellow flowers; plant in sun and prune after flowering.
  • Daphne odora aureomarginata - stunning scent in late winter; definitely one to cut to bring indoors.
  • Mahonia x media Winter Sun- striking architectural evergreen with scented yellow flowers.
  • Sarcococca confusaperfect for a container, glossy green leaves, very fragrant cream flowers followed by black berries.

3. Plant structural evergreens. A box hedged parterre or knot garden remains beautiful throughout the seasons, even better with a frosting of snow.

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November in Vaux-le-Vicomte

Condense this look for your garden into this ….

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Knot garden, one year after planting

…. or this

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The evergreen curlicue  of this knot garden will look good in winter too.

There are many evergreen shrubs you can use too, as well as standard bay trees and topiary in pots. 4. Create a focal point  In winter the structure of your garden is exposed. Take time to assess it. Would it benefit from an arbour or  a bench.

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The main components of this picture – box hedge, fountain & Lutyens bench will look good, winter or summer.

A painted bench adds its own colour to your winter garden Ballymaloe Garden Fest 055 or even a sculpture to add interest to a bed now devoid of perennials.

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Cherub birdbath

Something classical for a period house … French gardens 2013 198 DSC01795 or something more contemporary … gardens dublin june 2013 006

5.Decorative touches  You don’t give up on your house in winter, so have fun being inventive in the garden. Window boxes and pots can still support an attractive display.

Winter flowering pansies underplanted with bulbs

Winter flowering pansies underplanted with bulbs

Give your garden an individual look – visit carboot sales or secondhand shops for quirky containers to fill with pine cones, evergreen branches, logs … or simply allow them to speak for themselves.

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Painted vintage dogcart

As the days draw in, adding lighting or candlelit lanterns draws the eye outside. Gardens Dec 2012 009 Lets hope that the weeks and months ahead are not too harsh….. DSC01125 DSC01216 … and we have this scene to look forward to in February.

Snowdrops, harbingers of Spring.

Snowdrops, harbingers of Spring.

You have planted your bulbs haven’t you? ( All photography mine; feel free to use any of Jardin’s images but please credit and link back)

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7 responses to “How to … add interest to your winter garden.

  1. Very good tips. I too live where winter plays heavily on landscape design. I think it is an asset to a landscape to have the structure of the garden take center stage, where color is less important and texture pulls its weight.

    • Yes I think you can use a focal point in smaller gardens to add some interest, less is more in this case but even a garden chair or bench can act as a focus. There’s an earlier post about focal points you might like.

  2. Great points– for very small gardens (like mine) it’s hard to put some in practice, but I would love to find a nice vintage bird bath. I didn’t plant any bulbs, yet…

    • Enjoyed your comment! Try reclamation yards for vintage bird baths; even new ones from garden centres look ok after a few seasons outdoors, and surrounded by planting. Still fine to plant bulbs in the next month….

  3. Pingback: Getting in the festive spirit outdoors | Jardin·

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