Winter Garden – A Feast For The Senses

Monday, 22 December 2014

When Jack Frost is decorating your windows it can be tempting to stay inside and not venture into your winter garden. However well designed and carefully planted gardens are a sensory feast in winter time. Hopefully these examples will entice you (and some wildlife) into your garden during the winter months.

Snow art by artist Sonja Hinrichsen

We might have to try our own (smaller) version of this snow art by artist Sonja Hinrichsen at Vialii Towers!

Sense of Sight

In winter, structures provide most of the garden interest.  That can be sculptures, water features, buildings etc but can also be the plants. Bearing in mind that most foliage will be missing in your winter garden, it is the plant’s stems and branches that will stand out.  Snow and frost can enhance these and bring an element of intrigue.


Corkscrew Hazel (corylus avellana), stunning in a winter garden

Snow looks stunning coating this Corkscrew Hazel (corylus avellana)


 Red Dogwood (cornus alba)

The bark of the Red Dogwood (cornus alba) is a brilliant contrast against snow


Ornamental grasses kept long (rather than being trimmed down at end of season) will shimmer when covered with snow or ice. Varieties such as Calamagrostis, Miscanthus and Pennisetum cope well with winter conditions. In addition they can provide welcome shelter for garden wildlife.

Miscanthus coated in snow

Miscanthus coated in snow

Man made structures and buildings that you normally admire in the summer can be given a makeover by snow and ice. Altered light and different textures make for a very different, but no less beautiful experience.

Laburnum arch

Laburnum arch in summer at Bodnant Garden in Wales


The Bodnant laburnum arch looks equally inviting in the snow

The Bodnant laburnum arch looks equally inviting in the snow

Formal garden designs really stand out in winter. The lines of structured planting and curves of box balls look stunning when defined by snow.

The empty flower beds reveal their intricate patterns when coated with snow

The empty flower beds reveal their intricate patterns when coated with snow

Plants such as echinacea, rudbekia, pyracantha and skimmia produce seed heads and berries that provide colour as well as food for birds and squirrels, perfect for a winter garden. Other Vialii favourites for winter borders include fennel, verbena bonariensis, angelica, eryngium and hydrangea.

Pyracantha with a snow halo

Pyracantha with a snow halo

Sense of Smell

Winter flowers tend to be smaller in size so need to be highly scented to attract pollinators. Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) and evergreen Sarcococcas have small and highly scented flowers. For maximum effect these are best planted by doorways or entrances that are used often in winter.

Winter honey suckle has tiny scented flowers

Winter honey suckle has tiny scented flowers

Sense of Taste

Did you know that certain brassicas actually benefit from sub-zero temperatures?  The leaves of Cavolo Nero kale are sweeter and less stringy after a few weeks of frost.

Cavolo nero

Cavolo nero flavour and texture is enhanced by a frost

Sense of Touch

Trees don’t just add structure, barks from trees such as prunus serrula and the paperbark maple (acer griseum) bring added texture and interest. They also have the added benefit of being suitable for smaller gardens.

Paperbark maple

The bark on paperbark maples just calls out to be touched

And let’s not forgot the sense of achievement that you’ll gain upon completion of a garden project! Now is a great time to assess your own garden.  There is no foliage to disguise holes in fences, damaged paths or large gaps in your borders.  Why not get out there on a lovely crisp morning and ponder how to make your outside space work all year round?

If you need some help or advice on adding some winter interest into your garden please get in touch.

This is our last blog in 2014, thank you for reading our posts this year.  We hope you have a lovely Christmas and wonderful New Year.

All at Vialii      

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