Evergreen shrubs in the winter garden provide structure, colour and fragrance. Skimmias and hollies add colour with their bright berries; the fragrances from mahonias, viburnums and Christmas box waft across the garden.
Days may be short and dreary, light levels low, the nights long and cold but outside, even in this the bleakest periods, the garden is far from lacking interest. Lustrous ivies, clinging to walls and trees, shiny hollies, glistening laurels, each contribute form and a pattern to a bare landscape.
Brighten up a corner with the variegated leaves of euonymus, holly or golden yew. Create shapes with clipped box, yew or Japanese holly in your borders, hedges or in pots. They can add formality or smarten up your patio or either side of your front door.
Top evergreens to try:-
Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ – an erect evergreen shrub with dark green, sharply toothed leaves. Produces dense arching clusters of yellow fragrant flowers from November to February. Prefers sun, partial shade or shadow. Can grow up to 2.4m (7ft).
Sarcocca hookeriana – Plant this Christmas box near a path to enjoy the sweetness of its small white flowers all winter long. 1.5 x 2m (5ft x 6ft).
Euonymus fortunei ‘Silver Queen’ – a bushy upright, evergreen shrub with white-margined, dark green leaves; the margins later tinge pink. Prefers poor soil and full sun; will climb vigourously if supported, useful for training against a shady wall or through a tree. Height 2.5m (8ft), 6m (20ft) as a climber; 1.5m (5ft) spread.
Viburnum Tinus – a bushy, evergreen shrub; bearing small white flowers in terminal cymes, over a long period in late winter and spring. Height and spread 3m (10ft).
Ilex aquifolium – Common or English holly; usually dense, erect evergreen tree or shrub. Bears dark green, spiny leaves and long-lasting red berries. Height 25m (80ft) spread 8m (25ft).