4 January 2022

6 winter plants for your garden

Temperatures may have plummeted, but we’ve got seasonal ideas to challenge your green fingers, inspired by our Winter Garden at Wakehurst.

By Sandra Howard

The Hamamelis, orange peel plant

A visit to our Winter Garden will get you fizzing with ideas on how to add some gorgeous winter colour and fragrance to your own garden. 

Here are six plants we used when rejuvenating our Winter Garden here at Wakehurst. 

We picked plants that will look good throughout the year and brighten up outdoor spaces when others lose their sparkle. 

Cornus alba 'Sibirica'

There are lots of red Cornus cultivars but few are as reliable or as strong as Cornus alba 'Sibirica'. 

It has the most impact when planted in a group and they can tolerate a wide range of soils, preferring some organic matter. 

Winter Cornus can be cut down in the spring to produce strong coloured shoots for the following winter. Plants should be fed with a balanced fertiliser after this treatment. 

Cornus alba Sibirica
Cornus alba Sibirica, Chris Clennett © RBG Kew

Betula utilis var. jacquemontii

Reliably elegant in stature, this tree works wonderfully as an individual specimen for a smaller garden or in a tightly planted grove for larger spaces. 

It prefers free draining soil and larger specimens should be supported when newly planted with a low stake and flexible ties. 

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’

This grass forms a reliable tight clump and has beautiful squirel-tale flowers that glow in low light. 

It loves full sun and free-draining soil and can be interwoven with flowering plants or planted solely in big groups. 

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’
Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’

Erica x darleyensis ‘Mediterranean Pink’

Heathers are deemed unfashionable by some but few plants flower as strongly in mid-winter or exhibit such strong colours. 

This heather has rich pink flowers borne on wiry, compact stems. Always happiest on sandy acid soils, ensure heathers are well watered during establishment.

Erica x darlyensis ‘Mediterranean Pink’
Erica x darlyensis ‘Mediterranean Pink’

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel’

A sharp citrus fragrance and vibrantly-coloured flowers evoke this plant's name.

This witch hazel is one of the very best winter flowerers. 

Plant in free-draining soil near a path and be patient, it is slow growing but worth the wait

Orange peel plant at Wakehurst
The Hamamelis, or orange peel plant

Bergenia purpurescens ‘Eroica’

This plant is wonderful in large groups for a landscape effect, with its burnished bronze leaves that glint in the winter sun. Dusky pink flowers follow in the summer.

Bergenia purpurescens ‘Eroica’ is endearingly vigorous. Plant in semi-shade or full sun in a wide range of soils. 

Visit Wakehurst

Bergenia purpurescens ‘Eroica’
Bergenia purpurescens ‘Eroica’
Person wondering around outside amongst plants

Browse our bespoke winter collection

Shop in our new Plant Centre to create your very own winter wonderland at home. Wakehurst and Kew members get 10% off.

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