Sprucing up the Winter Garden

We're giving RHS Garden Rosemoor a tidy so that its wintry delights can be shown off to the full – why not come down and visit to take a look?

Cornus alba 'Kesselringii'Now that all of the deciduous trees and shrubs at Rosemoor have lost their leaves and most of the herbaceous plants have been cut hard back, our attention is drawn to the plants that often go unnoticed throughout most of the year: shrubs with highly coloured stems and trees with interesting barks; winter-flowering shrubs with colourful and often highly scented blooms; and evergreens with attractive, often variegated, leaves. Although we have a wide range of such plants throughout the garden at Rosemoor, by far the greatest concentration is in the Winter Garden.

Roger cleaning the birch trunksOver the past few weeks we have been working hard preparing the Winter Garden for the moment when it moves centre stage. Leaves have been raked off beds to reveal the new shoots of the snowdrops that will provide a beautiful display from January through to March; one of our volunteers, Roger, has cleaned the trunks of the Himalayan birches (Betula utilis var. jacquemontii) so their ghostly white bark gleams through the December gloom; the leaves have been removed from the hellebores so that their beautiful, delicate flowers can be seen to best effect when they appear in January; and we have spread a mulch of fine, composted spruce bark on some beds, which provides an attractive backdrop to the plants and will also help to suppress weeds.

Removing old shrubsNear to the shelter at the bottom of the Winter Garden we have recently removed a number of shrubs which were becoming very overgrown. After improving the soil in the bed with compost, we have replanted with an Acer davidii Viper ‘Mindavi’, a snakebark maple with very striking red, young shoots and older green and white striated bark, a group of five Cornus alba ‘Kesselringii’ with very dark purple, almost black, stems and an underplanting of Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ and Pulmonaria ‘Trevi Fountain’, both of which have colourful foliage. Further plants will be added to this bed in the spring.

To find out more about some of the plants in the Winter Garden and maybe get some ideas for extending the period of interest in your own garden, come along on our ‘Plants for Winter Interest’ walk on Friday, 30 January 2015.

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