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In your garden: October 2019

 

Garden expert Eliza Nicholas offers some tips for the winter months 

AS we move towards the winter months, we tend to spend less time out in the garden, but no less time looking at it.

From the comfort of a warm armchair it can be disappointing to look over a garden of bare soil and decaying annuals, so we should use the autumn to prepare our spaces to provide winter interest where possible.

Evergreen shrubs are a gardener's best friend during the colder months. They provide structure in beds or when used as hedges, and can bring colour when the flowering varieties are used. 

There is a long list of options, including Yew, Mahonia, Escallonia and Viburnum which are substantial, low maintenance shrubs that are happy in most gardens. Small plants to fresh your winter borders include winter flowering Heather, Hellebores and bulbs such as Snowdrop and Cyclamen. Their brave blooms will bring welcome colour during the cold months.

A spectacular winter display can also be created with grasses. Leave the cutting back of old stems until just before the new growth emerges in spring, ensuring that the soft shaped remain through winter. They look particularly impressive when covered in frost on a sunny morning! Low maintenance Mexican feathergrass (Stips tenuissima) and the splendid Reed grass (Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster') are popular choices. If you are looking to add trees that will draw attention over winter, there are many options. A favourite of mine is Chinese witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis), with its wonderful yellow spidery flowers triumphing in the darkest months. Paperbark maple (Acer griseum) is a small deciduous tree, with splendid autumn foliage that falls to reveal peeling bark in deep auburn layers before small flowers reappear in spring. We must also mention silver birch (Betula jaquemontii) with its eye-catching white bark showing off all year round. This tree is popular for small garden given the unobtrusive shape and canopy that does not cast too much shade. 

For many plants, autumn is an optimum time for planting outdoors, however, others are more suited to spring or summer, so check with a specialist to make sure you get the best results. 

Of course, plants are not the only way to create year-round visual impact outdoors. Paving, pebbles, sculpture and other decorative or hard landscaping features can be used to enhance spaces and create areas you can use during winter months. Adding a firepit for roasting marshmallows will encourage both adults and children to wrap up warm and enjoy time outside!

The best gardens are ones that provide something to look at and spark out imagination throughout the year. Not only are they visually pleasing, but they often have the power to tempt us from the comfort of the armchair and into the great outdoors. 

Want more tips? Share your garden pictures with us

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