Top 8 Winter Trees and Shrubs

Beautiful bark colours and vibrant winter flowers can cheer up the gloomiest winter day. This Giant Sequoia in Savill Gardens, Windsor Great Park provides the most wonderful winter structure, colour and texture. Of course this winter tree is too big for most gardens. But here are a few that might just inspire you…….

Many special winter trees and shrubs will play a quieter roll during the summer months when herbaceous planting runs riot. But there is nothing more beautiful in a winter landscape than the shiny red bark of a Cherry tree, the ghostly white bark of a Birch, and the dazzling spidery flowers of the Witch Hazel. Planted alone as a specimen or in groups (the birch) for impact.

Winter trees


BETULA  COSTATA is a distinctive birch with a strong pattern of horizontal striations on the bark. This winter tree has a creamy peeling bark with orange and pale pink patches. It will attain a height of 8m in ten years.


BETULA UTILIS JACQUEMONTII is another winter tree with white bark. Dazzlingly white. Of the many different cultivars to choose from I think Betula utilis Jacquemontii Grayswood Ghost is the best. The single stemmed varieties can be planted in number fairly close together to give impact. This looks great under planted with something like a winter flowering heather. It also works extremely well with the red and green barked Cornus alba. Multi stemmed varieties look better planted as specimen trees. The canopy in summer is very light, catching the smallest breeze


ILEX AQUIFOLIUM. The evergreen Holly with it’s wonderful red berries is a classic winter tree. ‘Golden Van Toll’ is a favourite as it takes the best features of other varieties and combines them. It is self fertile and therefore can produce berries without a male holly nearby. It also has smooth foliage with no prickles making it easier to prune. The variagated margins brighten it’s appearance.


PRUNUS SERRULA. Who can resist the shiny red bark of this cherry tree. The horizontal banding together with its bright colour make it a distinctive winter tree. Grown as a multi stem as in the picture, the branches are more slender than the single stem but have more opportunity to show off the bark. The spring flowers are very delicate, not as showy as some of the Japanese cherries.


Winter Shrubs

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MAHONIA X MEDIA ‘WINTER SUN’ has slender spikes of bright yellow flowers from November to March. Beneath, it’s dark evergreen rosettes of holly like leaves glow in the winter sun. This is a plant for a shadey spot in the garden that will light up it’s corner in winter. The flowers have a fragrance not unlike lilly of the valley. The shrub can reach 3m plus and the stems can become leggy. Best to surround these with lower growing foliage plants.


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HAMAMELIS X INTERMEDIA. ‘Jelena’ is one of the best Witch Hazel cultivars. It has stunning coppery orange scented flowers in late winter as well as beautiful red and yellow foliage in autumn. Position in a sunny winter spot where it will grow to 3-4m .

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STACHYURUS PRAECOX This delicate and rare shrub flowers from February to April in the winter garden. Before it’s leaves unfold, it produces pendant racemes of small cup shaped lemon flowers, falling from shiny bronze slender branches. This spreading deciduous shrub reaches 3m in height and prefers moist hummus rich or acid soil conditions. At home with Rhododrendon, Azalea and Acers.
Take a look at Winter Structure