Gardens look great in winter.  Well, they should anyway. If yours doesn't, here are some tips to let the magic in...

  • Get the structure right.  My gardens have a high ratio of herbaceous and deciduous trees but I always try to get the bone of the garden right with a few strategically placed structural evergreens so that the garden doesn’t look dead in the deep of winter.
  • Don’t cut everything back, retain some seedheads standing tall and proud throughout the winter. Ornamental grasses, perennials such as Verbenas, and shrubs such as Hydrangeas look great even after the flowers have died and very elegant under a layer of frost. Plus they are a valuable food source for birds and provide an overwintering home for ladybirds and lacewings.
  • Attractive bark and silhouette. Choose some trees that look great even after they’ve lost all their leaves such as betula utilis var. jacquemontii, which will brighten up any garden with their brilliant white stems and slender, elegant silhouettes. Multi- stemmed Amelanchier and Acers will also provide interest and look like sculptures. Dogwoods are excellent if you have a large garden and can plant them en mass somewhere with their bright coloured bare stems (as per picture here).
  • Introduce fragrance. Some shrubs are a must (for large gardens only): Viburnum bodnantse “Dawn”, Sarcococca confusa and hookeriana and Hamamelis x intermedia and mollis will surprise and entice you with their exquisite fragrance when all your senses seem to have gone numb with the cold.
  • Get inspiration. Some gardens reveal their true inner beauty on cold and bright winter days. They are worth visiting even when it’s freezing: Hyde Hall in Essex, Anglesey Abbey and Bressingham Gardens (where this picture was taken) in Cambridgeshire.