“Evergreen” might as well mean “ever dreary”.
But at this time of year, when the leaves have fallen from deciduous trees, our gardens are as bare as skeletons if we do not have a few evergreens to provide form, structure and texture throughout the winter months.
The trick is to find the right plants and not to overdo the planting – there is nothing worse than living with a garden that is unchanging from one season to the next. But with balance you can have your cake and eat it.
What to choose? Well, the Victorians loved laurel, and, while nobody would claim that it was the most exciting plant in the world, it is in winter that its virtues are most noticeable.
It is an evergreen but one whose leaves are bright green and shiny. It reflects light on the dullest day and, provided that it is kept clipped within bounds (summer is the time to do the job), it is a useful hedging or screening plant.
Viburnum tinus (pictured) does not have the advantage of glossy leaves, but during the winter it is smothered in white flower buds (or pink-tinged in the variety ‘Eve Price’). They eventually open into flat heads of white flowers.
The Mexican orange blossom, Choisya ternata, is valued for its fingered evergreen leaves and its white flower clusters in late spring and late summer.
But the variety ‘Sundance’ has young leaves that are acid yellow, becoming lime green, and these retain much of their colour in winter.
With a decent smattering of these evergreen shrubs throughout your garden, you will be assured of a bit of body through the winter – and not the kind that you find in a cemetery!
Don’t miss Alan’s gardening column today and Tip Of The Day every weekday in the Daily Express.
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