Discover articles on garden design, seasonal planting tips for your garden and other news and views from Gillian Goodson Designs.

Celebrate the onset of winter

The paperbark maple tree:  Acer griseum (Gillian Goodson Designs)

The paperbark maple tree: Acer griseum (Gillian Goodson Designs)

There’s no denying that winter is here. Whether the thought of upcoming festivities has you wailing like a banshee, or dancing on tables, remember the joy of being with people you love.

For green-fingered friends or budding gardeners, consider giving a good pair of gardening gloves, packets of seeds as stocking-fillers, garden vouchers or a plant. Very seasonal will be the ever-popular Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ with its dark, tight red buds (white flowers in spring). For bright red berries, there’s S. japonica subsp. reevesiana and S. japonica ‘Temptation’. Whether planted outside individually, grouped, or in a widow box or decking halls and doors, add holly, ivy, rosemary and the like for a seasonal theme and a splash of colour. 

Should shopping and erratic parking get your goat, take a deep breath and go for a jolly. You might spot Acer griseum (paperbark maple tree) with its cinnamon-coloured peeling bark, stunning backlit in the winter sunlight; marvelled by children and adults alike. It has a lovely rounded habit and makes a fantastic choice for smaller gardens; green foliage in summer turning orange-red in autumn.

Flowering from now through to March is Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’, a deciduous shrub with rounded clusters of beautifully scented light pink and white flowers on bare stems. An evergreen choice is Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’, which has starry white flowers and deep metallic-blue berries.

If the threat of sloppy kisses under mistletoe makes you want to dash for the hills, then sneak outside and feed the birds, defrost bird baths, or make air holes in frozen ponds—gently place a hot pot on top to the melt ice—avoid bashing ice as it may very well harm any fish. You could harvest parsnips, leeks and Brussels sprouts. If you’ve started celebrations a little early then the vigour of planting bare-root trees and moving dormant mature shrubs should keep waistlines in check! 

Enjoy the architectural magic and wonderment that hoar frost creates especially on leftover seedheads. Congratulate yourself on having thought of structure in your garden as this comes to the fore when colour is less prevalent. Be spellbound by the transformation that the landscape takes on when snow does come. Share stories and laughs not just with friends but oft-forgotten neighbours. Let your inner child out—build snowmen, throw a ball, gather sticks. Bottoms-up whatever your drink of choice and here’s to silver linings and creating new, priceless memories!