We would always advise that you include plants for winter interest in even the smallest garden as this is the one time of the year when you really need something green & colourful to look out on.  Hardy evergreen or winter flowering plants remind you that nature can survive anything and spring isn’t really that far away.

For smaller gardens or containers you can plant the lush dense dark green Sarcococca (Christmas Box), Ilex Little Rascal (dwarf Holly) or a Japanese Azalea, with its promise of a riot of spring blossom.  For foliage colour try the vivid yellow Choisya Sundance or an exotic looking red Nandina.  The Euonymus family provides a range of easy care colourful evergreens with bright gold or silver variegated foliage.

With a bit more space you can include Viburnum tinus which has dark green leaves and masses of pinky white flowers all winter.  Other valuable & reliable winter interest plants include.

  • Mahonia Charity, a statuesque, no-nonsense plant that produces the most surprising yellow flowers smelling of Lily of the Valley in the depths of winter. 
  • The Dogwoods really come into their own now with their brightly coloured stems in orange, red, yellow or purple and the modern cultivars of Bamboo, like Fargesia Great Wall, will give you exotic foliage and screening without the worry of  running out of control!
  • The Hellebore family is probably best known for the white Christmas Rose, which is a beautiful hardy garden plant, but there are lots of other varieties, many with attractive foliage as well as winter flowers in different colours.  They grow happily in containers or in the garden and aren’t too fussy about their situation.  This also applies to Heucheras, which now come in a riot of leaf colours and will give you interest even in the worst winter weather. 

If you didn’t get around to planting your own flowering bulbs this autumn, you can still benefit from their lovely show by buying them ready grown in pots.  The all time favourite is Narcissus Tete a Tete, which is a compact, colourful and free flowering daffodil.  Along with other dwarf bulbs like Crocus, Anemone, Aconite and Snowdrops they will flower happily in the worst winter weather and come back better and better each subsequent year.

Domestic gardens have been proved to provide a vital habitat for our native wildlife. Your evergreen and berry producing shrubs provide food and shelter for resident birds and winter flowers are essential food for foraging insects.  Don’t be too keen to tidy the borders as the dry stems of grasses and herbaceous perennials can look attractive as well as giving protection for small creatures.  A garden is a much more rewarding place when it is shared with the local wildlife.

Any colour in the depths of winter is doubly valuable. But with scented flowers and jewel-like berries to enjoy too, you'll want to spend as much time outside during the colder months of the year as you do in summer.

View more categories in the category Trees and shrubs