Choose plants for STRUC­TURE

Use shapely trees, shrubs and clipped top­i­ary for a range of win­ter sil­hou­ettes

Garden Answers (UK) - - Celebrate -

With­out the bil­low­ing sum­mer peren­ni­als and leafy lay­ers of­fered by de­cid­u­ous shrubs and trees, your gar­den’s ‘bare bones’ are re­vealed. This is the pared-back skele­ton of your out­door space – the paths, lawns, bare soil, benches, tree trunks and ever­green hedges that each of­fer a form of ‘win­ter in­ter­est’. Sim­ple de­sign touches, such as a lawn or paths edged with at­trac­tive bricks or stones, may dis­ap­pear for most of the year un­der­neath plants that cas­cade over them, but in win­ter they’ll cre­ate crisp clean lines and be­come a fea­ture in their own right. Low-an­gled win­ter sun­light high­lights the sil­hou­ettes of naked trees and shrubs that look es­pe­cially at­trac­tive when dusted with frost or snow. The some­times-in­tri­cate net­work of bare branches and stems can cre­ate a light­ness, with their slen­der fili­gree forms. At­trac­tive choices in­clude twisted hazel Co­ry­lus avel­lana ‘Con­torta’, el­e­gant Ja­panese maples Acer pal­ma­tum and the tiered wed­ding cake tree, Cor­nus con­tro­versa ‘Var­ie­gata’. Some peren­ni­als re­tain an ever­green pres­ence while oth­ers die back be­low ground, leav­ing be­hind mem­o­ries of sum­mer in their ar­chi­tec­tural seed­heads and faded flow­ers. It’s all too tempt­ing to tidy up the gar­den in au­tumn, cut­ting back dy­ing stems to ground level, but some plants are worth leav­ing: rusty brown se­dum flower heads, parch­ment hy­drangea blooms and chest­nut fen­nel um­bels add ar­chi­tec­tural in­ter­est to oth­er­wise empty bor­ders. Ev­er­greens, es­pe­cially those pruned into crisp lines or shapes, of­fer solid forms that lend weight to a plant­ing scheme and top­i­ary can be used to great ef­fect. Closely clipped box and yew work as fo­cal points to draw the eye through the gar­den and, when re­peated at in­ter­vals or strageic po­si­tions, can cre­ate a sense of rhythm and co­he­sion. Cubes, cones, spi­rals and long lines of hedg­ing cre­ate a for­mal feel, whereas top­i­ary balls have a softer, less struc­tured style and can be planted in clumps or dot­ted about for a more in­for­mal look.

Blond Hakonechloa macra ‘Al­boau­rea’ and inky Ophio­pogon planis­ca­pus ‘Ni­grescens’ pro­vide an eye­catch­ing skirt be­neath trees

White branches of Be­tula utilis ‘Sil­ver Shadow’ stand out against ever­green Ilex cre­nata

Twisted hazel

Topi­aried yew

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