Winter Cottage Gardens: How To Keep A Cottage Garden In Winter Appealing
By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
The cottagegarden is a classic, charming English landscape feature. Many of thetraditional plants for such spaces are perennials and deciduous, which leaveswinter cottage gardens looking bleak for part of the year. While it is easy toprovide texture and color for the mildest seasons, it takes some planning tohave an interesting cottage garden for winter, but it certainly can beachieved.
Cottage gardens are known for their carefree elegance. Thereis so much going on in these small spaces that the effect can be chaoticwithout some balancing influences. Spring and summer bulbs and flowers abound,while smaller fruiting bushes or trees and herbs lend a culinary aspect. Muchof this dies back when cold temperatures arrive, however, leaving a cottagegarden in winter a bit dull. A few suggestions can help perk up the wintergarden.
Using Evergreens as Winter Cottage Garden Plants
To create a cottage garden with winter interest, you willneed plants that do not lose their leaves. Smaller trees and shrubs are perfectwinter cottage garden plants. Select trees that won’t shade out other plantsand have interest year-round.
Something that flowers and fruits is an option. Broad leafor needle leaf plants will provide needed greenery. A plant that flowers inlate winter, such as witchhazel, provides those adorable tasseled flowers. Other ideas include:
- Yew – Not only lovely foliage but yews also have cheery red berries.
- Boxwood – Boxwood has many varieties and is easy to sheer, hedge, or use in containers.
- Camellia – Camellia has broad, glossy foliage with bright, late winter blooms.
- Ornamental grasses – Mondo, sedge, blue oat grass, and fescue are a few ornamental grasses to try.
- Sweetbox – Sweetbox has strongly scented winter flowers, black winter berries, and narrow glossy foliage.
Other Plants for Winter Cottage Gardens
Another way to create a cottage garden with winter interestis by using plants that have brightly colored stems or persistent cones,berries, or fruit. Some of these to include in your garden are:
- Dwarf persimmon – A dwarf persimmon will have brightly colored fruit well into winter.
- Red twig dogwood – The bushes of red twig dogwood will provide a pop of color.
- Snowberries – Snowberries have creamy white berries dangling throughout the cold season.
- Chokeberry – Chokeberry has persistent purple-black berries.
- Paperbark maple – The slightly shredded bark of the paperbark maple gives an amazing look to winter gardens.
- Japanese Kerria – Along with yellow spring blooms, Japanese kerria’s winter interest is in its bright green bark.
- Beautyberry – Beautyberry has bright purple fruits.
- Viburnum – The viburnum has black to red berries.
Flowering Plants for The Cottage Garden in Winter
Flowering plants often leave behind interesting seed headsto perk up the cottage garden for winter. One of the easiest to grow is AutumnJoy sedum, an impressive succulent with a high site tolerance andlong-lasting flower heads.
Hellebores,with their forked large leaves, will produce copious nodding flowers in a hostof colors.
Depending on your zone, you can also grow pansies,primrose,or honeywort.An evergreenclematis with scented winter blooms and arrow-shaped leaves make goodadditions. Pierishas cascading flowers in winter, while winterjasmine is hardy and produces golden flowers even in snow.
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1. Chimonanthus praecox
Although very much a background shrub in summer, this Chinese native makes a particularly fine display throughout winter. From December to March the unusual blooms are quite beguiling. Clusters of lemony, star-shaped flowers are carried upon bare, leafless stems. Chimonanthus is most prized for its powerful sweet perfume - hence its common name of Wintersweet. Grow it against a sheltered wall to offer some protection from the coldest weather.
WHEN TO GET PLANTING
Garden landscape designer Fi Boyle MSGD explains that there are two key times of year to plant. The first is the early autumn, when the soil is still warm and not waterlogged.
For Fi, the advantage of planting in the autumn is that the plants settle into warm earth and start to establish their roots before the winter months.
This means that when spring comes, they are ready to get going. However, if you have missed the autumn window, you can also plant in spring.
Bear in mind that you may need to keep a bit more of an eye on your plants at this time of year, as in In recent years, we have had some very dry springs.