The Winter Garden is designed to highlight the wide selection of plants that flower or retain colour and textures during the grey days between November and February.
Texture can be seen in the jagged glossy leaves of Mahonia x media. In November and December these are joined by flamboyant sprays of yellow flowers. Other interesting shapes and textures come from specimens of the purple moor grass Molinia caerulea ‘Variegata’, and the corkscrew hazel (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’). Colourful displays and incredible fragrance are provided by the delicate mauve or white flowers of the Himalayan Daphne bholua and the intriguing white flowers of the shrubby honeysuckle Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’.
In January and February the spidery flowers of the witch hazels bring a splash of yellow, red and orange to the Winter Garden. One of the strongest scents comes from the unassuming winter box (Sarcococca). This easily grown dwarf shrub has lance-shaped evergreen leaves and minute petal-less flowers that really make their presence known.
Witch hazels are the highlight of the winter. The dazzling yellow flowers of Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ and ‘Moonlight’ shine out across the lawns and draw you to the Winter Garden.Ian Ball, Garden Team
Meanwhile, the vibrant red stems of the dogwood Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ contrast superbly with adjacent yellow willow (Salix alba ‘Vitellina’) and jet black stems of Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nigra’. Other dogwoods in the Winter Garden have yellow (Cornus sericea ‘Budds Yellow’), orange (C. sericea ‘Isanti’) or even black stems (C. alba ‘Kesselringii’).
Things to look out for
Standing in a bed of its own, the white trunk of the West Himalayan birch (Betula utilis var. jacquemontii), contrasts beautifully with the underplanted black grassy leaves of Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’. In late January or early February, snowdrops grow up through the dark leaves. Other birches in the Winter Garden are Betula utilis var. occidentalis (nearest the Mansion), B. utilis var. prattii and B. nigra.