Doesn’t have to be dreary – there are many plants that can add vibrancy, provide colour, shape and texture and bring the garden into life.    Trees and shrubs provide some structure and this is a good time of year to look at your garden to see where this is needed.    For the rest of the year they will provide a framework and good foil for the rest of your plants and flowers.


Trees – Interesting outlines and skeletons.   Colourful bark of Acer griseum(paperbark maple) or Prunus serrula with gorgeous glossy mahogany red bark.   Many others with berries to provide food in the winter

Structure and shape

Shrubs will add structure.  Evergreen shrubs can fill spaces and provide interesting shapes and the variegated types add extra  colour.


Grasses like miscanthus have a good winter presence and take on a new look in winter frosts.


Stems of many of the dogwoods such as Cornus alba sibirica with its red stems or other varieties with green, black or fiery orange stems.

Evergreen grasses  – varieties of Carex provide interest at ground level


Bulbs – Snowdrops, Chionodoxa (glory of the snow) – these will look particularly good coming up beneath the coloured stems of Cornus.

Hellebores – remove old leaves to reveal flowers.

A fresh mulch on the bare soil will enhance the look of these plants.  (Preferably applied in the autumn and not when the soil is cold or frozen).

Add some winter perfume – many winter flowering shrubs are highly fragrant.  Make room for Sarcoccoca (Christmas box) a small evergreen shrub ideal for shade.   Grow near a path or your front door to appreciate its fragrance.  Flowers whilst small are big on fragrance and are followed by glossy berries.

Gardens – Many of these plants can be seen at their best at open gardens and particularly Anglesey Abbey in Cambridge or Marks Hall Arboretum which have a wonderful winter walk.