For me, Winter can be about the blues, such as the very architectural Euphoribia which looks great sparkling in the sunlight with frost on. I also love the lightness of grasses which come into their own over a cold Winters day catching the light from all aspects.
There is a lot of seasonal interest in Winter, including from a design point of view, the following to help beat those blues.
We all know the lovely berries associated with Holly and Roses, but Pyracantha can really pack a punch with it’s brightness. An unusual favourite of mine is Callicarpa bodinieri var.giraldii ‘Profusion’ which have striking purple berries.
Many deciduous trees can create a burst of colour in a garden before the leaves fall. On a cold day the fire glow from an Acer or Sorbus commixta can help create visual warmth.
Mountain ash offers great colour with the added benefit of great looking berries for the birds.
Beech has a lovely coppery glow and I particularly like it in hedge form.
When choosing trees for a design I consider how bark and stems will help compliment the garden particularly over Winter.
Birch with its peeling bronze and copper tones illuminate a space whilst Acer Davidii ‘Ernest Wilson’ otherwise known as Snakebark Maple, offers unusual twists of green with white lines… a bit like a snake uncoiling!!
Cornus (dogwoods) can have many upright stems and when planted in groups add an abundance of colour. Prune in March almost to ground level (coppicing) to continue the vibrant colours the following year. Beware which ones you plant as they can have a suckering habit (produce new shoots away from the original plant). I particularly like Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ and Cornus sanguineum ‘Midwinter Fire’. For contrast against these two why not add Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’ or Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’?
Finally, Salix (Willow) is great as an avenue for Winter with vibrant stems reaching towards the sky at the top of the tree. A great one to consider is Salix alba var.vitellina ‘Britzensis’. Coppice (pruning similar to Cornus) in Early spring for more vibrant stems the following year.