7 ‘must-have’ plants that all winter gardens need – ‘low maintenance’

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The best winter garden plants may have less choice than the plentiful annuals and perennials on offer in summer and the vast array of blooms and blossoms in spring. But the great thing about winter is that the plants which are thriving can really shine through the stripped back bareness of the rest of the garden. Plants which you didn’t really appreciate for their beauty during summer may become the main focal point during the cold months, adding some much needed interest to your winter garden.

To aid gardeners to create their winterscape, Rowan Cripps, paving specialist and founding director of Infinite Paving, shared: “Adding texture, colour and structure, evergreen plants are a must-have staple for any winter garden. And, as a well-maintained garden can add as much as 20 percent of value to your property, these plants are an aesthetic and financial investment. 

“With 92 percent of homebuyers citing a garden as an important feature, the perfect winter garden is also a surefire way to secure a sale.” Here are the following evergreen plants recommended: 

1. Bergenia cordifolia “winter glow”

Bergenias make excellent ground-cover plants and some varieties take on reddish or metallic tints in winter.

Rowan said: “Capable of surviving extremely low temperatures, bergenia cordifolia is a hardy and resilient plant that maintains its beautiful appearance all year round. 

“Renowned for reddish-bronze leaves during the colder months, these then resume their green glory in the summer months. Named Perennial of the Year in 2017, these plants are common in gardens for good reason!”

2. Nandina domestica “firepower”

With fern-like foliage in an array of fiery colours, the nandina domestica is the “perfect way” to “liven up” your garden in the winter, according to the expert.

Similarly to Bergenia Cordifolia, these plants change colour throughout the year, varying from green through to red, orange and yellow for dramatic foliage. 

The plant also bears small and star-shaped white flowers during the summer, thriving in sunny areas of the garden.

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3. Hebe “frozen flame’”

Also known as Hebe “red edge”, this plant will complement any garden with its compact nature and beautiful appearance. 

Hebe “frozen flame” has grey-green leaves with white edging during the warmer months, which subsequently turn pink in the winter months. 

Rowan noted: “The plant flowers in shades of blues, pinks and whites, meaning the plant is extremely versatile – and popular.”

4. Mahonia japonica 

Renowned for its incredibly delicate scent, mahonia japonica is a small upright evergreen with a “striking and attractive” appearance. 

The gardening pro explained: “During the winter, the plant has purple red leaves and offers bright yellow flowers that smell like lily of the valley. 

“Once established, the plant requires little maintenance, meaning it’s the perfect addition to your garden all year round.”

5. Viburnum tinus “eve price” 

Reaching up to four metres in height, the viburnum tinus “eve price” is a brightly coloured and attractive plant.

Rowan said: “In the winter, the plant produces dark blue berries, which attract birds to encourage a lively winter garden. The plant has previously won the RHS Award of Garden Merit for its popularity, with its dark green leaves a welcome addition to any winter garden.”

6. Cotoneaster franchetii

“Hardy and low maintenance”, the cotoneaster franchetii appears in both evergreen and semi-evergreen shrubs with leaves in shades of green and grey, which feature white on the underside. 

The expert said: “The plant bears orange and red berries in the cold months, bringing a splash of colour to any frosted garden. However, while appealing, the fruit should not be ingested, and the plant should be handled with protective equipment at all times.”

7. Euonymus fortunei “silver queen”

Surviving very well in low lights, the euonymus fortunei is an “incredibly hardy plant that can be planted almost anywhere”, according Rowan. 

The plant’s spoon-shaped leaves are dark green, with white margins that tinge purple and pink in the colder months. The plant attracts deer, bees and other wildlife, “making it perfect for livening up your garden on cold and dreary winter days.”

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