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  • Writer's pictureLynn Cordall

How to make your garden look good in winter

Many years ago, people used to "put gardens to bed" for winter. Really? yes. All very neat and tidy and lets be honest, a bit boring to look at through the windows over the long dark winter months.

So what's changed? Many things. We now know that leaving plants to, hopefully, die back gracefully, is very beneficial for wildlife (cover and food) and the soil (protects and stop a crusty cap forming v leaving bare soil), but what about the plants? There are many plants and combinations that look great all year along. Planting is what this piece is going to focus on today, specifically the value of grasses in the winter border (or pot).

Yesterday I visited Dunham Massey gardens and they really do a great job of incorporating some great structural perennial grasses an shrubs into their borders. They have designed and planted a specific winter garden, that looks great all through the dark gloomy months.

Mixed herbaceous borders really are I think, a great contemporary garden solution to all round interest. Mixing grasses, flowering perennial plants, shrubs, bulbs and also topiary ensures interest all year round.

Dunham Massey: Here Carex frosted curls looks amazing against the fabulous Prunus Serrula (Tibetan cherry) tree. The bark not only looks amazing, but feels it too. (A great tree for a small garden as it has beautiful white blossom in spring and amazing autumn coloured leaves and it and doesn't grow too big.( What I call a holy trinity tree for the urban garden)

The tall (and my absolute favourite grass) Calamagrostis brachytricha looks great behind frosted Sedum matrona (now called Hylotelephium, but Sedum they will always be to me). Layered with a smaller grass to the front, this composition will look fabulous in large and small gardens alike.

Grasses mixed with topiary softens and modernises the formal feel of these domes giving a fresh contemporary look that looks good all year.

And finally, back to Dunham Massey, and the flame red Cornus albus siberica. Perhaps best enjoyed if you have a larger garden as they look amazing planted enmasse, and remember to cut them back hard in spring if you are growing them for their stem colour

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