Winter leaves – garden colour and amazement still to be found



12th December 2017
Even in the depths of winter it is still possible to find gems of colour, flowers, leaves and textures in the garden. These are so easy to overlook. Some of the best examples are hydrangea plants, the way the old leaves can turn once the cold weather starts to nip. Just look at these magnificent old chaps!
Hydrangea leaves in winter. ‘Don’t pass us by. We’re still beautiful!’
The great thing is that they tend not to fall too early, and so are best if spared from over-enthusiastic pruning. This allows all the golds and russet colours to develop. The old flower-heads are also rather lovely, even when the colour has gone.

Heathers, the cultivated varieties of heather, are always good doers for winter gardens. Some people say they are old fashioned. Huh! As if plants and those who love them can ever be creatures of fashion! The Victorians certainly loved them, what with Queen Victoria and Albert’s passion for all things Scottish. Ours always seem to be showing off at their best around Christmas time.
purple heather flowers
Purple heather – Victoriana in bloom.
If you can encourage your heathers to hang over a wall they can grow quite large. Walls catch the sun and store warmth just that little bit better than bare soil. Near to a house, even better, of course.

I think winter can be a wonderful time in the garden if we just take time to slow down and look. Full of surprises. Even the humble wild strawberry saves its very best to last – a blaze of scarlet and gold.
scarlet and gold leaves of wild strawberry
Wild strawberry leaves in winter
“Who needs fruit when you look this gorgeous in old age!’
And our faithful Euryops, becoming deservedly more and more popular in UK gardens lately, never seems to ever be without its pale green leaves and bright yellow flowers. It seems to love winter best of all. And we love it too, for being so defiant and brassy.
yellow, daisy-like flowers - euryops
Euryops – old faithful, never seems to stop flowering!
So don’t despair of winter gloom. The garden is still a place of amazement, especially with a bit of low December sunshine to enhance the colours. And you don’t need acres of space or lots of time just to grow a bit of heather, or to pop a hydrangea in a pot. These really are plants that look after themselves. And, just like people, they often have a trick or too up their sleeve even in old age.
Authored by Robert Stephen Parry

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