hellebore, dusky pink double, marie shallcross

12 Design Ideas for Your Winter Garden

Why 12 Design Ideas for Your Winter Garden? Well, design ideas to prove that winter is not a boring month in the garden but full of scent and colour. Twelve of them, one for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas and the Twelve months of the calendar year!

Now, everyone ahs a different sized garden and a different perspective from which they view their winter garden. In order to get the most from the following ideas, it helps if you first ask yourself the following questions: –

  • Do you only view your winter garden from inside the house?
  • Would you like to have an ‘all seasons’ border to view from the house?
  • Did you want a separate winter garden? If so, how big is the space you’d like to use and how would you reach it?
  • Would you prefer the front garden or the back garden to have more winter interest?

There are more questions I’d ask if you asked me to create a winter garden for you, but then we’d be onto the specifics for you and your garden. The following design ideas are relevant for most gardens as they could be adapted to suit the size. For example, a fifty-foot square topiary garden or a collection of three smallish stainless-steel pots.

12 Design Ideas for Your Winter Garden #1

Let your planting include at least 10% of evergreens. This helps with the overall structure and background during the winter. During the summer they often fade into the background behind bright herbaceous perennials. In the winter they become the main event. This is as true for balconies as for larger gardens.

topiary, ha-ha, hardwick hall gardens, Derbyshire

12 Design Ideas for Your Winter Garden #2

Topiary adds formality when it’s a regular shape. By definition topiary is evergreen, so adds structure. The formal shapes arranged either side of a gate or front door add a touch of class. For something a bit different, try groups of spirals and balls in a corner or as a focal point.

topiary, levens hall, cumbria, massed topiary

12 Design Ideas for Your Winter Garden #3

Look up. The bare skeleton of deciduous trees offers a different view from the leaf covered summer months. Smaller trees and shrubs with interesting shapes are available for smaller gardens too. Corkscrew hazel, Corylus avellane contorta, is an obvious choice as it will thrive in a large pot for some years.

lamp post, winter trees

12 Design Ideas for Your Winter Garden #4

Still with deciduous trees, consider those with interesting bark. Betula utilis jacquemontii, West Himalayan silver birch, has a striking white trunk that stands out against an evergreen hedge. Prunus serrula, snake bark maple, has rich red brown peeling bark. The peeling bark also adds texture.

coppiced birch trees, managed woodland, decorative bark, betula

12 Design Ideas for Your Winter Garden #5

Structure is not just from plants. Arches, pergolas, trellis fences can frame a winter view or a focal point. They can also be decorative in themselves. In fact, my feeling is that if they’re not interesting in their own right why would you plant a deciduous climber on them?

rose pergola, emmetts garden, kent

12 Design Ideas for Your Winter Garden #6

Scent near paths and doors adds oodles of pleasure to the winter garden. This may be from shrubs or flowering bulbs. With a bit of planning you can have scented plants virtually year-round! Winter flowers are often highly scented so as to attract the few pollinators that are around. See blog links below for some ideas.

Viburnum x bodnantense dawn, scented flowers, Winter Flowering Shrub

12 Design Ideas for Your Winter Garden #7

Focal points are all well and good, but what about a path to take you dry shod to where the interesting feature or scented plant is? Gravel and the traditional hoggin path materials are useful as they don’t get slippery in the winter wet.

kittens in snowy garden, kitten proof your garden

12 Design Ideas for Your Winter Garden #8

Seed heads on ornamental grasses such as Calamagrostis and Miscanthus offer interest. Sparkling with frost as they catch the pale sunlight on a winter’s morn, they are quite magical. They also provide a food source for birds who add movement and colour to your winter garden as they fly in, around and out.

stipa tenuissima, ornamental grasses in winter sun

12 Design Ideas for Your Winter Garden #9

Some herbaceous perennials can provide winter colour as they don’t fully die back, despite their name. for example, good ground cover in shade can be had from Pachysandra. Whereas groups of rich purple and bronze Heuchera add a tapestry of colour to the flower border.

heuchera berry marmalade and heuchera berry smoothie, herbaceous perennials, planting design, evergreen

12 Design Ideas for Your Winter Garden #10

Remember berries! From electric mauve Callicarpa to butter yellow Pyracantha, there’s more to winter berries than Christmas Holly. How long berries last in your garden may well depend on how hard the winter is. Offering the birds a good selection on the bird feeder is suggested!

callicarpa berries, callicarpa bodinieri, beauty berry, purple berries, deciduous shrub, winter garden

12 Design Ideas for Your Winter Garden #11

The coloured stems of Cornus, Dogwood, and Salix, Willow, do more than add to the winter colour of your borders. In gardens prone to winter flooding they can help take up some of the surplus water. If you have room, a lower bank of Cornus in front of pollarded Willow, backed by a Yew hedge and fronted with Hellebores is definitely a winter attraction.

cornus amomum, dogwood, winter gardens, coloured stems, lake

12 Design Ideas for Your Winter Garden #12

Not all evergreens are green. Sunny gardens and south facing borders are often planted with silver leaved Santolina and Lavender. These are evergreen shrubs and offer you the opportunity of a subtle winter colour scheme. Or there are many variegated evergreen shrubs to choose from.

holly, variegated

This is obviously a quick list of ideas to get you started. There are more ideas for you in the various blog links. Or get in touch if you’d like a winter border designed for your garden.
One thing I know for sure, winter gardens are just as exciting as summer, spring and autumn ones. I for one love every season for the changes it brings to the garden.


Related Gardening articles you may enjoy from our Award Winning Blog

Five Gold Rings (Golden Plants) to Sparkle in your Garden
10 Winter Flowering Shrubs – Planting Ideas for your Garden
Hellebore – Christmas Rose
Snowdrop Flowers
Shakespeare – The Winters Tale – Garden Design Inspiration