BRIAN KIDD: Want Christmas sparkle in the garden? Try evergreens

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Have a look at your garden, does it look interesting during the winter – and especially at Christmas? After all, you've decorated the house, so now spend some time on the garden.

 A couple of evergreen shrubs could make all the  difference, especially if we can find some with golden leaves to get us in the festive mood.

Why golden leaves? Gold and yellow look great during the dark, dank days of mid-winter. We only need a glimpse of sunshine like we were lucky enough to have last week and the garden lights up!

Eleagnus pungens maculata aurea is the best evergreen shrub ever. It's certainly in the top 10 evergreens for any garden.

It will grow to a height of 10 feet if left unpruned, but if pruned in late spring it can be kept as low as three feet.

This golden leafed eleagnus often throws out strong shoots from the base.

These shoots grow from the rootstock on which the plant was grafted and the unwanted shoots are a silver  colour and must be carved out at the base of the shrub; a pruning knife is useful for this job. Not got one? Why not drop a hint to Father Christmas? 

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 variegated leaves can be seen.

If you are interested in a gold and yellow evergreen beauty which is wonderful on every day of the year,  have a look at euonymus Emerald  'n' Gold, a most useful shrub to prune and place into a flower arrangement.

It rarely grows higher than three feet if left unpruned  but will remain as low as 12 inches when pruned in spring. 

One of my favourite evergreens, especially if you are in a windy area is called grisellinia.

The ordinary one has lime green foliage but the variegated variety looks brilliant. The only problem is, they are difficult to find. 

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 simply amazing.

The leaves look like rhododendrons but the variegated forms are just brilliant during the winter.

THIS WEEK'S TOP TIP

Did you plant hyacinth bulbs in October? They should have been kept cold and in a dark place. Now is the time to bring them indoors provided the shoots are four to five inches tall. If you forgot to plant them, go to your garden centre where you'll find pots of hyacinths with strong buds just showing colour. These will bloom for Christmas and have a lovely perfume.

Here's what to do. Have a look in  garden centres and  choose a variegated type which looks good. Put it on a  path and get hold of a red-stemmed cornus and three white and three  red winter-flowering  heathers.

Place them where 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 feature for Christmas in the winter garden.