On a Hunt for Winter Colour

Winter is not all bare branches and empty garden borders! Camera in hand, I set myself the challenge of tracking down plants which brighten up the dead days of winter.

Even when frosted with ice or with a sprinkling of snow, holly can be relied on to provide deep greens and rich red berries. Ivy and mistletoe complete the trio of festive evergreens.

In the medieval, walled town of Pérouges, in eastern France, I spotted a collection of window boxes which combined Christmas baubles and pine cones with winter pansies and cyclamen. When it’s time to take down the Christmas decorations, the pansies and cyclamen continue to brighten up the window sills.

Decorating the house walls above them, traditional bunches...

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5 Easy Containers for Stunning Winter Colour

Container for winter interest

With leaden skies and the days getting shorter and colder, it was time to inject a splash of colour on our front door step!

1. Skimmia, heuchera and winter pansies

A trip to the local garden centre is a great pick-me-up at any time of year, but on a chilly November day it was a heart-warming experience! Fairy lights twinkled and deliciously cute, fluffy rabbits waved from their glittery warrens as I passed through the Christmas grotto and out into the plant sales area. Of course, there wasn’t the huge array of colourful flowers you’d find at other times of the year. Still, there was plenty of choice for garden lovers hoping to cheer up their winter flower beds –...

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How much did you spend the last time you went to the garden centre?

The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner - garden design software

Did you just cast your eyes down and look a little bit sheepish then?

Plants are enticing, beguiling little things. They whisper: “Buy me! Put me in your trolley! See that gorgeous little flowery thing over there which matches my colours so beautifully. Buy us both! And you too will have an award-winning show garden border in your back yard.”

In May 2014, the Independent wrote that Britons will spend an average of £30,000 on their gardens over a lifetime, with a third of that amount going on plants, “often fuelled by impulse buys on garden centre visits”. That figures…

I remember a friend of mine proudly showing off her flower bed to me. She’d just moved in to her...

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Winter Scents

Hamamelis x intermedia Jelena garden design

No one wants their garden borders to be a muddy, lifeless patch in winter! Though a touch of frost can transform the dullest of gardens into a magical wintry landscape, most gardeners aim to create an outdoor space, with delights which are less transitory.

Choosing plants for winter interest usually means selecting attractive skeleton forms or handsome evergreen foliage, picking out plants with winter flowers or looking for colourful stems and interesting bark. All of these can make the winter garden a pleasure to view from your kitchen window.

When you get up close and personal though, it will be those heady winter scents which engage the senses and lift the spirit. With pollinators few and far between, the flowers...

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Heralds of Spring

Snowdrop - Galanthus nivalis Gardening Software Blog

December’s snow and ice have given way to rain and mud here in the Forest of Dean and, while I’ll be more than happy to dig out the toboggans again if the weather turns Arctic once more, for the meantime I’ve been seduced into thinking that maybe spring is just around the corner.

A prowl around the garden and – yes, the first white bulbs are appearing amongst the green shoots along the hedgerow. The snowdrops – harbingers of spring – are well on their way.

From late January, gardens all around the country start welcoming visitors keen to take advantage of that brief time of year when the ground is carpeted with a blanket of snowdrops.

Family days out...

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Does a garden add value to your home?

Narcissus Hawera

Most buyers are prepared to pay extra for a home with a garden. According to Phil Spencer, of Location, Location, Location, outside space could increase the value of your property by up to 20%.

We can be reasonably sure, though, that a well cared-for, colourful garden is a far more attractive proposition than a weedy, cluttered outside area.

So, whether you are intending to put your house on the market or stay put, you have all the justification you need for spending more time pottering in your garden.

Autumn is a good time for tidying up, cutting back spent flowers and clearing away fallen leaves. It’s worthwhile spending time thinking about how your garden has looked over the course of...

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