Shrubs for winter colour and scent

Having recently looked from my window out at the gloomy garden, I feel the poor thing desperately needs some form and colour for winter. In fact, many of the surrounding gardens are the same and there is nothing to hold you interest at all. I must remedy this this year! I’ve been looking around for ideas and have come across some beautiful shrubs that would not only provide colour but exquisite scent too. I have included two links at the end of this post for further reading. One being the RHS’s recommendations for shrubs with winter interest, the other a lovely post about a winter walk through the gardens at Anglesey Abbey which are breathtaking.

Euonymus Europaeus ‘Red Cascade’

Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade’2

A relatively ordinary shrub in the summer, it’s true glory is revealed  in autumn and winter when the leaves turn a shocking pink. The branches also hold onto the orange flowers which turn to vibrant seed heads. I think it would look stunning against yellow grasses or the steel blue of euphorbia. More detail here.

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’


This is a hard working shrub that has many qualities I’m looking for winter scent, coloured foliage and blooms. The viburnum flowers from October to March with little frost damage. The foliage turns bronze in autumn. Would work well next to a witch hazel or Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’ . Read more here.

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’ and Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Ruby Glow’

What prettier Christmas decoration for the garden could you have? Like shredded golden and red paper hanging candidly from bare stems, it’s almost rude in it’s showiness! The witch hazel has a stunning scent too.

HamamelisArnoldPromiseArnold Promise

120px-Hamamelis_RUBY_GLOWRuby Glow

A tour through Anglesey Abbey’s Winter walk garden

RHS Winter Interest Shrubs

Taking Stock Part 1, trees, shrubs and climbers

Here are some of the plants I planted in 2012

Climbing Hydrangea, planted on the left fence, halfway down the garden, before the plum trees

climbing hydrangea


Clematis Triteanata Rubromarginata – trained up a plum tree to the right side halfway down the garden (gorgeous almond scent)


Paul’s Himalayan Musk, rambling rose – trained up a plum tree to the right fence, hoping it will ramble over that too!


Sorbus Hupenhensis Pink Pagoda, tree planted right at the bottom of the garden against the south facing brick wall



Catalpa bignonioides aurea, or Indian Bean Tree, this is halfway down the garden to the right, which will one day be next to my summerhouse, surrounded by prairie plants

Catalpa big Aurea


Prunus Chocolate Ice, next to the Catalpa

Prunus Chocolate Ice 318

Climbing Rose Compassion, on the right west facing brick wall



Physocarpus summer wine, in my ‘white’ border on the right side near the decking, it’s doing really well!



Climbing Rosa Gloire de Dijon – on the right fence, near the decking under the pear tree

Gloire de dijon

A year at no.20

With all my best intentions to document my first year at no.20, it has flown by in a flash (and a flood). Never mind, there is a new year approaching which I’m hoping will herald a more relaxed time at our new home, in which I can put some of my many plans for the garden into action. I have managed to create some of the aspects I had originally planned for this year, mainly creating my vegetable bed, which is 3/4 complete. I planted some trees, moved many plants around and generally watched the garden growing to see what we had inherited. Yet still I’m very excited about my patch of green, and am brimming with anticipation of new projects.

I cannot resist quoting Tim Smit, creator of the Lost Gardens of Heligan:

‘What I’ve learnt at Heligan more than anything is the sense of those cogs of time going round where every particular part of the year has a purpose. If you were to ask me what was my favourtie time of the year it would have been spring, summer or even autumn.But now it’s the end of Jan or beginning of February when everyone’s feeling really depressed and I feel like I’ve been let in on a magnificent secret when I see the bulbs burst out of the ground, and it feels fantastically hopeful. I wish, I wish I could translate my deep pleasure in knowing that to everybody.’

Plant a tree

The autumn leaves of the Prunus Chocolate Ice contrast beautifully against the Silver Birch

Since moving here in late December there has been little if no time for the garden. We have renovated the house to a liveable standard, and have spent any other spare moments with (oh so glamorous) trips to the tip to get rid of all the rubbish accumulated while moving. When we inherited the garden it was as described here:

130ft long by 40ft wide; boundaries market by a brick wall on the right and across the back and a wooden fence on the right; a very mature pear tree to the left of the decking near the house; a large tree stump about 5ft high in the first third of the garden, which we took down as it was completely rotten; a twisted dwarf willow tree at the rear of the garden near the wall; a delipidated shed at the bottom of the garden; a broken swing and rotary washing dryer. There are various other bushes and plants in the two long borders that stretch on either side of the lawn (which incidently covers the whole garden!)

With such a blank canvas it’s hard to know where to begin. So I made notes of things I love and have always wanted in my imaginery garden. For me this included some fruit trees and bushes, a vegetable patch, an area for the children, and just lately a coastal/mediterranean area (I have a pinterest page here for that)

Today it was warm and the air felt spring like and inviting so I decided to plant my first tree, in this case a Silver Birch. I decided to plant it where the fallen tree was, as I wanted to be able to see it from the dining room window and hear the leaves moving from the deck when sitting outside. I have planned to plant an ornamental cherry Prunus Chocolate Ice nearby as in the autumn the juxtaposition of the leaves make a wonderful contrast in shape and colour. I wrote about the aniticpation of planting these in my post Dreaming of my New Garden in my last blog.

When digging the earth for the first time, I was thrilled to discover a good foot of crumbly black topsoil which looked rich in matter-every gardeners dream! I was expecting thick clay being so close to the downs, or heavy flint as we are very near the sea.

So I spent my first dusk in the garden with a cup of tea, listening to the chaffinches and blackbirds sounding alarm before bed.