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glorious winter gardens

12.10.21

According to Landscape Architect, Randle Siddeley, there is never a reason or season for a garden to look bedraggled. In fact, low sunshine can add drama and beauty to a winter garden, transforming it into an unexpected delight.  He suggests planting ornamental grasses, seed heads and trees that come alive in wintry pale gold light.  Silver birch bark curls and flakes, adding a delicate sense of fragility and one of his favourites is the exotic Chinese red birch ‘Pink Champagne’ Betula albosinensis.  Thistle heads add spiky sculptural drama and Eryngium yuccifolium has a creamy bloom on a long stem that glows in the light, similar to the small globe thistle Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’.  The fuzzy, caterpillar-like heads of Pennisetums also add silvery luminosity. 

 

Hydrangeas’ russet, papery heads add warmth, while watching the slightly conical Paniculata turn from white to pinky green and then to a crispy brown can be just as riveting as seeing buds flower in spring.  Ferns suddenly come into their own in autumn and winter. Once summer foliage is cut back, ferns that have been hiding behind tall perennials in the shade at the back of the border, uncurl their fronds to take centre stage.  The common hart’s tongue fern can grow up to a metre in height and its long, glossy leaves reflect light, glisten with dew and rainwater and add sparkle to a dreary grey day.  The Pulcherrimum Bevis also provides impressive high clumps of arching dark green fronds.  There is a hardy alpine water fern from New Zealand that creeps along the ground, providing a mat of finely divided leaves. 

Commonly known as Mrs. Robb’s Bonnet, Euphorbia Amygdaloides is happy in a dark, north-facing border.  Once its lime-green heads are cut down, it provides dark, evergreen rosettes, which, at 15 to 20 cms high, provide a textured effect. 

Perfect to provide a complete textural contrast to the glossier, evergreen leaves is the New Zealand daisy bush, with its spiky structure with tiny olive-green leaves and branches that thrust upwards.  And of course, hellebores with their heavy droopy heads of luscious purple and white flowers, are a must to add colour to any December garden. 

Finally, it’s just not Christmas without mistletoe, pine cones and berries so Randle advocates planting plenty of holly, especially the varieties with gleaming dark leaves and thick clusters of plump berries, like Ilex Meserveae Blue Angel or Aquifolium Alaska.  These will keep the robins happy too.  

https://randlesiddeley.co.uk

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