Next time you’re browsing at the garden centre or dreaming about all those amazing TV show gardens, try to think beyond the blowsy summer plants and give a moment’s thought to the inevitable arrival of bleak winter. It is very easy to buy impulsively when tempted with boiled sweet confections of bright and lively summer colour. The resulting splash of interest can become a patch of bare uninspiring earth by November with a long time before it performs again in summer the following year. There are some plants however, that will give your garden a double dose of value by giving colour or texture during the summer and eye catching forms in the winter. Until very recently it was the accepted wisdom that the whole garden was tidied and ‘put to bed’ for winter. Nowadays the fashion is to leave seed heads on and selected, dried, summer growth to provide form and interest during the often barren winter months. A welcome by product is the berries and seeds that will be available for wintering birds.
Plants that have this wonderful multi tasking ability include Sedum, Achillea, poppies, honesty, golden rod, teasel, Eryngium, Phlomis russeliana, Cardiocrinum giganteum, and Cynara cardunculus. Many of the grasses and bamboos will also give great summer and winter interest too. The dogwoods are also well worth considering for their vivid red, yellows and greens. If planting bamboo make sure they either have a huge amount of growing space or plant them in a root containing pot or put a barrier in the ground around their roots.
A visit to the Gardening section of the library will provide lots of ideas as well as the necessary ‘know how’ to make it all happen. Alternatively you can visit www.rhs.org.uk for lots of free expert advice or if you want to see some real plants you can visit any of the superb Gloucestershire gardens that have a winter section.