Garden looking dull in winter? Brighten it with these shrubs – Brian Kidd

Elaeagnus pungens maculata Aurea, a splash of winter colour.
Elaeagnus pungens maculata Aurea, a splash of winter colour.
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Have a look at your garden, does it look interesting during the winter? A couple of evergreen shrubs could make a difference, especially if we can find some with golden leaves.

Why golden leaves?

Because gold and yellow look great during the winter and we only need a glimpse of sunshine and the garden just lights up.

Elaeagnus pungens maculata Aurea is the best evergreen shrub ever. It is certainly in the top 10 of evergreens for any garden.

It will grow to a height of 10ft if left unpruned, but if that pruning is done in the late spring it can be kept as low as three feet.

If you can't find that one look for elaeagnus Gilt Edge which is also wonderful.

Both of these golden-leafed elaeagnus often throw out strong shoots from the base.

These shoots grow from the rootstock on which the plant was grafted. They are unwanted shoots and silver in colour and you need to get rid of them. They must be carved out at the base of the shrub and a pruning knife is the best tool for this job. If you haven’t got one perhaps this is the perfect time to drop some hints to your nearest and dearest!

Green leaves, ie ones which do not contain any yellow, may also appear.

It is essential to cut these out because if you don’t do this there’s a good chance the whole shrub may gradually produce more and more green leaves until there are no golden ones left.

The trick is to prune out all the shoots with green leaves right back to where the variegated (those of both colours) leaves can be seen.

One of my favourite evergreens, especially if you live or garden in a particularly windy area is Grisellinia.

The ordinary one has lime green foliage but the variegated variety looks brilliant, the only problem is 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 are very similar to those of a rhododendron and the variegated forms are simply brilliant during the winter.

Have a look in your garden centre and I’m you will find several varieties, but make sure you go for a variegated type which looks especially attractive with large and bold golden leaves.

To make sure it’s the one for you and before you make your final decision, put the plant on a path at the garden centre, get hold of a red-stemmed cornus (dogwood) and three white and three red winter-flowering heathers.

Now 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 winter feature in the winter garden. And it will look good all through the year too.

THIS WEEK’S TOP TIP

Buy a packet of exhibition onions so they can be sown on Boxing Day in your greenhouse. My dad always did this to get away from we children for an hour on Boxing Day!