Most of us try to have as many plants for winter interest as possible. The trouble is that if they are dotted about the garden they don’t make much impact. The wonderful winter walk at Anglesey Abbey, Lode, near Cambridge is a visual delight from beginning to end.
You approach it through a tunnel of green conifers and box and eventually you come to a gate.
Much of the impact of the garden comes from coloured stems, particularly Cornus sanguinea ‘Winter Beauty’ I love the layers of green conifer and bare oak trees as a backdrop.
Many of us grow the winter flowering Viburnum bodnantense‘ Dawn’, but how lovely it looks growing in a little grove of frothy pink, under-planted with Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’.
I have mentioned before how I love the pure white Viburnum farreri candididissimum. The white flowers look lovely against the shiny brown stems.
Cornus are wonderful for winter colour and most of us are familiar with the lovely red Cornus alba siberica ‘Westonbirt’. I had never seen the gorgeous Cornus alba ‘Baton Rouge’ before. It seems even redder and is apparently more compact. Behind it are the chalky white stems of Rubus cockburnianus which are lovely in winter but it is very invasive.
The red stemmed lime; Tilia platyphyllos ‘Rubra’ is shown off to advantage by coppicing it and keeping the red stems at eye level. Behind it are the yellow stems of Cornus flaviramea, and it is under-planted with the delicious- smelling Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna. There are different sorts of Sarcococca throughout the garden and they even line the car park. Unfortunately when I was there on Tuesday, it was very cold and the hard frost of the night before was still lingering. This meant that there was little fragrance in the garden. On the plus side the sun was shining and the sky was blue.
The Sarcococca looked lovely, delicately frosted although the frost meant that the snowdrops and hellebores were lying limply on the soil.
More fragrance was produced by the lovely yellow Chimonanthus praecox var. luteus. which looked wonderful against the blue sky.
I didn’t see a great variety of witch hazels but this Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Barnstedt Gold’ was looking good.
More lovley winter stems were provided by a group of large acers and this wonderful multi-stemmed Prunus serrula.
Halfway along the winter garden walk there is a little garden with a rather androgynous statue in the centre, which is a memorial to the first Lord Fairhaven.
How lucky they are here to have the backdrop of beautiful mature trees.
Of course in a winter garden there is plenty of evergreen foliage. This Garrya elliptica is dripping with lovely lime green tassels. If you want really long ones the best to choose is ‘James Roof’
The winter garden culminates in the famous birch grove of Betula utilis var. jacquemontii which has its gleaming white trunks pressure washed every year. Work has started on an extension of 112 new trees to the birch grove will make it even more impressive.
Anglesey Abbey is famous for its snowdrops and indeed many new varieties originated here. Unfortunately they were looking very sad on this frosty morning so clearly another visit will be necessary.
I have a lot of plants that look good in winter, because I love them so much, but they are dotted about the garden and make very little impact. In my previous garden which was much larger, I had a winter garden. I will show you what it looked like in a future post when I have had the transparencies converted to digital.
Although I only have an acre here, I have been brooding all winter about making a new winter garden. It will be much smaller than my previous one, but still big enough, I hope, to make some impact. This is the space marked out for the first phase. It is in a neglected part of the garden which you haven’t seen before. You can see why. I want to leave a path behind it for access to the pond area. In the background you can see the stumps which were left after dead apple trees were cut down. There is a pile if wood waiting to be sawn up for the fire. I hate having messy areas of the garden, so 2015 is the year that this part is to be made presentable. Eventually, I shall extend the winter garden further up the garden, but the second phase may have to wait until next year. Removing the turf from the area within the hosepipe and digging it over is enough of a challenge for now. The turf will come in very handy for the vegetable raised beds because the soil level has settled and they need filling up with more layers.
The little plant in the white bag is a Strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo which I bought a while ago at a ridiculously reduced price. It is going to have to have a home round here somewhere.
I have had to have 8 weeks off gardening, but I am hoping to be able to start work in February. I ‘ll keep you informed of the progress. Watch this space!