Gardening: How to create a winter feature in time for Christmas | Brian Kidd

Does your garden look interesting during the winter?A couple of evergreen shrubs could make all the difference you know.They will cheer you up no end, especially if you can find some with golden leaves and plant them in a position where you can enjoy them, perhaps from the comfort of your favourite armchair or from the kitchen window where you spend ages washing up or preparing vegetables (think Christmas Day… ).

Saturday, 14th December 2019, 6:00 am
Illuminate your winter garden with elaeagnus maculata aurea.

Why golden leaves?

Gold and yellow look great during the winter because we only need a glimpse of sunshine and the whole garden suddenly lights up.

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

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

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

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

These shoots grow from the root stock on which the plant was grafted.

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. Why not treat yourself to a new one for 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 the variegated leaves can be seen.

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

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

Not many evergreens have huge fruits during the winter but have a look at the cherry laurel or Japanese laurel, commonly called the spotted laurel or gold dust plant.

This well-known Victorian evergreen called aucuba is just amazing. The leaves look like those on rhododendrons, but the variegated forms are simply brilliant during the winter.

This shrub is native to rich forest soils of moist valleys, thickets, by streams and near shaded moist rocks in China, Korea and Japan.

What about this for an idea?

Have a look around your garden centre, choose a variegated type which looks good, put it on a path and then take hold of a red-stemmed cornus (dogwood) and three white and three red winter-flowering heathers.

Place them on the path where they look good and you will get a good impression of what they would like together in your garden; colour throughout the winter.

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

Wow! Now you have an instant, wonderful winter feature in what you could now legitimately call your winter garden… and just in time for Christmas too!


Tar oil winter wash for fruit trees was withdrawn to be in line with the nanny state of things which won’t help us in the garden. There are alternatives. Look out for winter wash for fruit tress in an organic form. Try Growing Success.