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Winter Hi-Lights
The garden may be looking a little empty at this time of the year and we will know that we now have a long cold period ahead of us. Although we can be sure that we have lots to look forward to in the garden in the coming year It`s very easy to write this season off as a dead time in the garden.Nothing is further from the truth and this can be a season of intense interest in the garden.Indeed some plants that look very ordinary for most of the year really come into their own when the temperature drops close to or even below freezing.
Planning for winter interest in the garden does require some thought and a positive attitude towards the season.It’s best to view this as a time of opportunity rather than seeing the cold and frost as the enemy. It`s possible to use a plants response to the cold to full advantage and there are many plants producing their best displays of colour in the winter garden. When the temperature cools off the colour of these spectacular plants hots up!
Investing time and money creating winter interest in the garden will mean that you can extend your garden experience and enjoy the garden all year round whatever the weather.
Trees and shrubs with coloured bark and stems will provide glowing hi-lights.Trees such as the birches Betula pendula with its pure white bark or the designers favourite Betula utilis .var. jacquemontii with its luminous white bark providing wonderful winter highlights even more special when planted against a dark background or a with their tracery against a dark winter sky. A planting of evergreen and coniferous plants can help to create a permanent structure to the garden that is just right to show of the coloured bark of trees such as the tibetan cherry Prunus serrulla offering its smooth shiny polished red bark that is irresistible to touch, that will positvely glow  in the winter light.
Several shrubs get in on this act too and by panting in groups of 3 or 5 you will maximise their effect.The coloured stems of the dogwoods provide the garden with the warm red stems of Cornus alba`Sibirica`or the slightly finer form of Cornus sanguinea`Midwinter Fire`whose orange and pink stems look like flickering flames .Cornus sericea`Budds Yellow`supplying us its strong lime green stems that make a wonderful contrast against the darker stemmed dogwoods such us of Cornus alba`Kesselringii`.Plant a mix of coloured stems for a more colourful display. Not to be outdone the willows offer a display to compete with the dogwoods with Salix alba var vitellina`Britzensis`offering orange scarlet twiggy stems.The whitewash brambles Rubus cockburnianus and Rubus thibetanus will shine if positioned against a dark background perhaps a dark fence, wall or planting.
Winter foliage colour can be spectacular with several evergreen plants taking on a new winter identity. Foliage of Cryptormeria japonica the Japanese cedar will turn a beautiful red bronze during the winter months and the bold foliage of Mahonia japonica becomes a colourful highlight when its remarkable leaves glow rich reddish-purple in the winter garden.Elephants ears or the evergreen perennial Bergenia cordifolia adopt tints of red to its leaf edges in the cold and the foliage of Tellima grandiflora rubra group take on its deep red winter colour. Several evergreen shrubs such as Leucothoe scarletta have foliage that will  become a burnished deep red during the coldest weather and the yellow and green variegated foliage of Euonymus fortunei` Emerald`n`Gold` turning pinky red in the coldest  weather.These plants only become eye catching during the winter rewarding us with a colourful display.

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Jan Alway  Garden Design

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