A touch of gold, some winter sun and... bingo

Elaeagnus pungens maculata Aurea - 'the best evergreen shurb ever'. Probably.
Elaeagnus pungens maculata Aurea - 'the best evergreen shurb ever'. Probably.
Runner beans - perfect for getting children interested in gardening.

BRIAN KIDD: From these seeds, mighty gardeners might sprout

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Have a look at your garden, does it look interesting in winter?

A couple of evergreen shrubs could make a difference, especially if we can find some with golden leaves.

Why golden leaves? Gold and yellow look great during winter because we only need a glimpse of sunshine and the garden lights up.

Elaeagnus pungens maculata Aurea is the best evergreen shrub ever. It’s certainly in the top 10 of evergreens for any garden, growing to 10ft if left unpruned. But if cut back in late spring it can be kept as low as three feet.

This golden-leafed elaeagnus often throws out strong shoots from the base. These grow from the rootstock on which the plant was grafted. The unwanted shoots are a silvery colour and must be carved out at the base of the shrub. A pruning knife is useful for this job.

Green leaves may also appear and if these are not cut out the whole shrub may gradually produce more green leaves. The trick is to prune out all the shoots with green leaves right back to where the variegated leaves can be seen.

One of my favourite evergreens, especially if you live in a windy area is griselinia. The ordinary one has lime green foliage, but the variegated variety looks brilliant, but you might have difficulty finding it.

Not many evergreens have huge fruits during the winter, but have a look at the cherry laurel.

This well-known Victorian evergreen called Aucuba is just amazing. The leaves look like rhododendron but the variegated forms are superb during the winter.

You might have seen this shrub in overgrown gardens and would never dream of growing one at home. Think again. It’s easy to grow, smothers weeds, even ivy, and is good in any soil. This beauty can be kept to a height of two or three feet if pruned in spring and the great advantage is that the leaves remain on the plant right down to the ground.

Have a look in garden centres. Choose a variegated type which looks good and put it on a path at the centre. Get hold of a red-stemmed cornus and three white and three red winter-flowering heathers. Place them on the path at the centre and move them around so they look good and you can see what they will look like in your garden. Colour all winter.

Plant the evergreen towards the back; put the cornus about three feet away and plant the heathers a foot apart in the front.

Wow! What a wonderful winter feature in the winter garden especially when the sun shines. So good you’ll think you are abroad.

TIP OF THE WEEK

If you planted hyacinth bulbs last October they should have been in a cold, dark place. Bring them indoors if the shoots are about four inches high.