Check out my article in December’s Swansea Life for some plants to brighten the dreariest of winter days!


Planting for winter interest

At this time of year the garden is far from most people’s minds, but even in the depths of winter there are plenty of lovely things that you can grow to cheer up a cold, dark day.

Winter interest in the garden can come from colourful berries or flowers, gorgeous scented plants, brightly coloured stems or dramatic evergreen foliage.

Some of my favourites include…


Commonly known as ‘Dogwood’ there are lots of wonderful varieties of Cornus that have the most incredible colourful stems in winter.  They are very hardy and are useful to plant in a tricky part of the garden that you don’t know what to do with! They provide a useful green backdrop to colourful herbaceous planting in summer and once they lose their leaves, their brightly coloured red, orange or yellow stems look stunning. They need to be pruned every year, almost to ground level in March, to ensure that a fresh crop of the brightest-coloured stems are produced for the next winter. I would recommend planting ‘Midwinter Fire’ and ‘Sibirica’.



Camellias do really well here in Swansea, thriving on the acidic soil and are a great choice if you want to achieve a dramatic splash of colour in the late winter/early spring. Camellias are evergreen, so provide structure to the garden, and they come in lots of different coloured flowers, from delicate whites, pale pinks through to the dramatic deep pinks and red.


Every garden should have at least one hellebore! We have planted them in almost every garden we have designed. Their cheerful flowers brighten up a semi-shady patch of the garden, flowering from around December to March. They are quite slow growing, but very hardy, and once happily established they will seed themselves around gently and form a nice big clump which will last for years. They are available in beautiful muted shades of white, pinks and purples and have either double or single blooms. My favourites are the spotted flowered varieties.



Commonly known as ‘Sweet Box’, Sarcococca is a small, bushy evergreen shrub with bright green, leaves, and small creamy-white flowers which are followed by glossy black berries. Suitable for a shady spot, they don’t look particularly exciting, but are useful for creating a bit of evergreen structure. The reason they are well worth growing is for their amazing scent! Their tiny flowers appear in Winter and are extremely fragrant – plant them near doorways or entrances that will be in regular winter use so that their lovely scent can be appreciated.

Victoria writes an article each month in Swansea Life magazine about all things gardening. Click here to view her other articles.