Throw on your winter coat and scarf and spend a morning at the Winter Garden Dunham Massey. It’s full of late winter treasures that are worth seeking out.
Winter garden design I have noticed has become more prominent in public gardens in the past 10 years. Giving visitors a reason to wrap up and go out on a cold winters day. My favourite and probably the most established winter garden is Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire. But on my doorstep, there is a newly established winter garden in the grounds of the National Trust property at Dunham Massey, Cheshire.
The best time to visit is when there is nobody else there on a frosty sunny day. A bit of a tall order but sometimes possible during a week day in January/February!
A fabulous combination of winter plants. Corylus avellana Contorta, Contorted Hazel with a backdrop of the fiery red stems of Cornus alba Siberian Pearls. This really is the reddest Dogwood I have ever seen! In a month or so the Hazel will produce attractive pale yellow pendant catkins.
The fiery orange and red winter stems of Cornus sanguinea Mid Winter Fire. Cornus with all of their different coloured stems are a must in a winter garden and in order to achieve these bright winter stems the Cornus is coppiced in March. This involves cutting the stems down to about 200mm from ground with subsequent new spring growth producing the bright stems. Mid Winter Fire is not as strong a grower as Cornus Alba so it is better to coppice half of the stems each year.
The shiny red bark of Prunus serrula is very tactile, so it’s good planted next to a path or a bench
There is a eerie atmosphere around this stand of white birch. Betula utilis Jacquemontii Greyswood Ghost. This is a planting scheme that I have seen repeated quite often recently and with good reason as it is very striking. However, I would prefer to see an evergreen under planting of say Pachysandra terminalis or even winter flowering heather if the conditions are right. The bare soil in this planting produces tulips later in the spring.
Small flowers can pack a punch in a winter garden. This is Daphne bholua Jacqueline Postill.
Not the prettiest of shrubs in the winter garden as it can be quite straggly. But it has the most delicious perfume drifting metres from the path, a little like Lily of the Valley. It is called Lonicera purpusii, Winter Flowering Honeysuckle. Also in the garden the heady scents of Sarcococca confusa and hookeriana ( winter box) I find just a little too insistent.
The spidery sulphur yellow flowers of Hammamelis x intermedia Pallida will brighten the garden for 4 to 6 weeks. Flowers of the witch hazel can withstand minus temperatures making it a perfect winter garden shrub. It has a lovely citrusy perfume.
Hammamelis x intermedia Diane is a witch hazel with glorious autumn colour
Skimmia japonica, a good evergreen ‘doer,’ has lovely red winter berries. To produce the red berries there needs to be a male plant nearby. This could be Skimmia Rubella or S. Kew Green with it’s wonderful perfume.
The crisp dry heads of Hydrangea Annabelle float above an evergreen ground cover with a glimpse of the red winter Cornus stems in the distance.
A robin poses for a photo undeterred by a stream of visitors passing by.
Take a look at my blog on Winter Structure
Or Top 8 Winter Trees and Shrubs