Garden with winter plants.

How to Have a Vibrant Winter Border

Flowers are few and far between in the winter garden, but devote an area to winter performers, such as bare-stemmed beauties and bright evergreens, and this season can be as colorful as any other.

When to plant: Spring and late autumn (for trees).

At their best: Winter.

Time to complete: 6 hours.

You will need: Spade, well-rotted organic matter, all-purpose granular fertilizer.

Selection of plants to use: Salix alba var. vitelline ‘Britzensis’, Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’, Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’, dwarf conifers, Erica carnea, variegated ivies.

Start with structure

Cornus and Salix grown for colored bark can be pollarded, so their stems grow at head–height on a single trunk, or coppiced, where they grow up from the ground. Plant the pollarded shrubs at the back of the border, and the coppiced shrubs at the front.

Plant around shrubs

Fill in the border around the structural plants with low–growing heathers in contrasting colors, dwarf conifers, and ivies. Position these plants so they help enhance the color of the naked stems.


Water plants regularly throughout the first year. Trim off dead growth from all plants so that the area looks good for winter. Coppice or pollard Cornus and Salix every few years in spring and feed with all-purpose fertilizer.