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

Welcoming the arrival of 2016

Grove of  Betula utilis  var.  jacquemontii  at Anglesey Abbey  (Gillian Goodson Designs)

Grove of Betula utilis var. jacquemontii at Anglesey Abbey (Gillian Goodson Designs)

We emerge, from the chrysalis of Christmas festivities, hopefully looking more like a regal butterfly than the larva before the pupa stage. Our easily tempted taste buds have been assuaged with devilish treats and we are ready to face the New Year armed with best intentions. Let’s put this positive mindset into action and not let the dangling sword of Damocles stop us from realising our goals! 

Winter dawns cast a charcoal-etched effect over our landscapes. Standing determined and strong in creamy-white contrast is the smooth bark of Betula utilis var. jacquemontii (silver birch). It is a popular choice of garden designers for its versatility and multiple planting combinations. For winter garden inspiration head to Anglesey Abbey and stand in awe and admiration of these hauntingly beautiful silver birches.

You can be forgiven for not resisting the highly scented Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ with clusters of deep pink buds opening to pink and white flowers. Loosely considered an evergreen; position it away from strong winds near a path where its scent will delight.|

Commonly known as elephant’s ears due to its leaf shape, the rich green leaves of Bergenia ‘Bressingham Ruby’ turn a burnished ruby-red in winter. It is a reliable, hardy evergreen for groundcover. Not for lovers of pastels with its spires of deep pink, bell-shaped flowers in spring. It is, however, deer and rabbit tolerant and attractive to butterflies, so think twice before excluding it from your garden. The winter leaf colour looks fantastic when planted with red-stemmed dogwoods. 

A great complementary bulb to snowdrops is Eranthis hyemalis (winter aconite). A member of the buttercup family it has yellow cup-shaped flowers with fresh, light green bracts. A much-needed food source for early-pollinating insects and happy in woodland or dappled shade.
There’s plenty to keep you out of mischief: recycle your Christmas tree, mulch soil during dry spells, remove fallen dead leaves from borders and lawns to minimise disease, winter prune wisteria and trees and shrubs, if heavy snow then gently brush branches as the weight may lead to breakage especially on conifers, clean paths and paving, keep off frosted or wet lawns to avoid compaction and damage, sow early vegetable crops under cover, put out food and water for birds. 

The good news is that the shortest day of the year is now behind us. Onwards, upwards and dive into the promise of all that is to come!