Lucy Redman’s winter garden wonderland
PUBLISHED: 11:58 04 November 2014 | UPDATED: 11:58 04 November 2014
The expert plantswoman loves her Rushbrooke garden in summer, but has ideas for making any garden just as enjoyable in winter
As autumn slips into winter we have to say goodbye to soft stemmed plants for the year, but some things come to life now, such as our pebble parterre, whose elegant stylised shape can be viewed from every window upstairs. The frost lingers on the lawn, but not the pebbles.
The parterre is surrounded by beds, which in summer are billowing with cottage garden plants such as Galega bicolor (Goats Rue), Foeniculum vulgare purpureum (bronze fennel), Allium Purple Sensation and Sedum matrona. All these plants make either umbels or seedheads, which catch the frosts and twinkle like tiny diamonds. Maryanne Nichols’ sculpture of The Walking Man strides through ornamental grasses, but also gathers beautiful cobwebs that are magnified by early morning frost and dew.
As autumn leaves drop, winter stems come into their own and there are few more spectacular than Betula utilis var.jacquemontii (multi-stemmed Silver Birch).
Sheets of white snowdrops appear late winter followed by tall white Helleborus orientalis and then an amazing sea of forget–me-not blue coloured Brunnera macrophylla.
Eye-catching fiery red, yellow and orange stemmed Cornus (dogwoods) and Salix (willow) look great running through silver birches around the embankment of ponds and look stunning reflected in the water, as seen in the Beth Chatto Gardens. When I interviewed Beth for Suffolk Magazine her garden was clothed with a light blanket of snow and looked beautiful with the delicate silhouettes of the Swamp Cypress, Taxodium distichum on the edge of the pond.
A simple winter wonderland can be created by planting a staggered glade of ten purple hazels (Corylus avellana purpurea), which have stunning bronze leaves in the summer, some nuts and in the winter their frost laden bare stems become ethereal and magical. Underplant with bulbs and run curved paths through it to create a dappled light. It creates a great foil for the purpley grey leaved Rosa glauca’s leaves, whose bright red hips glow in the winter light.
One of the most pleasing beds in our garden is the curvaceous grass border where I find the plants all hold their shape, but still give movement through the winter and catch the light. The tall arching stems of Cortaderia richardii add elegance and height, the Calamogrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’ clumps add straight lines and are off set by the lower tactile wispy hair-like plumes of Stipa tenuissima. Through this run crocus in the spring, and tall, graceful white star-flowers of Ornithogalum magnum.
Every garden should have several Viburnums – V.x bodnantense has scented pinky white flowers on bare stems and cheers up those winter blues. A later variety which I love that The Place for Plants at East Bergholt sells is Viburnum x burkwoodii ‘Mohawk’.
When it comes to berries none are more spectacular than Berberis “Georgei”, with its yellow flowers that turn into clusters of tomato red berries – stunning against a clear blue sky.
The double claret Helleborus orientalis I got from Roger Harvey of Harveys Garden Plants (Thurston) looks stunning floating in a bowl – a very easy flower arrangement for the middle of the table which lasts for ages.
You can contact Lucy for info on Design your own Garden courses, garden design commissions or The Lucy Redman Garden and B&B. Tel: 07503 633 671 or