Design Your Winter Garden With Shrubs – An indispensable element of the winter garden, shrubs provide form, structure, fragrance and colors. A well-planted garden will have a selection of these useful plants, each contributing to the overall scheme. Topiarized evergreens and deciduous shrubs with scented winter flowers should be positioned where their characteristics can be appreciated to the full.
Cornus. The dogwood include some enormous frees, for which you will need a large winter garden, but there are some shrubs, which can be kept small by coppicing them every year. This forces them to put up a number of short stems, about 3m (10ft) high, the best of which are richly colored. The spring coppicing can either involve cutting back every single stem, or just half so that it always has some growth.
Cotoneaster. Grow cotoneasters to provide a show of berries from fall into winter which range in color from bright, shiny red to flashy yellow. One of the best is C. horizontalis with its spreading, horizontal branches, and the red berries clearly hung along them. You can use the smallest in rockeries, to edge paths or beds and you will get, with the right choice, evergreen leaves, typically white or pink flowers, and the best of all – the berries.
Daphne. Evergreen, semi-evergreen or deciduous, these delightful shrubs bear flowers with an exquisite fragrance. Some are rock garden plants, others work well in mixed or shrub borders. Winter-flowering types are best sited near a door where their fragrance can be appreciated to the full without the need to go too far outdoors.
Daphne odora (right)
Hamamelis. The witch hazel genus contains some of the finest winter-flowering shrubs, which would no doubt be more widely grown were it not for their specific cultivation needs. Propagation is also difficult, and plants are slow-growing, so those offered for sale tend to be small and expensive.
The winter jasmine. The winter jasmine has no scent, although the brilliant yellow flowers are undoubtedly welcome in the depths of winter. Not strictly climbing, the stems of this Chinese species are lax and trailing. It can be trained against a wall or allowed to cascade down a bank. The cherry, bright yellow flowers open during warm spells on the bare branches over winter.
The winter jasmine
Hollies. Hollies are essential in the winter garden. They have three important features. First, the often glossy foliage, sometimes variegated. The leaves really stand out in the depths of winter, especially when the variegation is bright yellow. Second, most hollies can be topiarized. Their leaves are quite large so it is hard to convert them into tight-angled shapes, but they will make good lollipops. And third, many have an excellent display of red and yellow berries over winter. If you want berries, you must grow a male and a female in close proximity and check carefully before you buy.
You can also grow the following shrubs: Erica x darleyensis, Garrya elliptica, Chimonanthus, Viburnum and Mahonia species.