Six on Saturday: A winter garden

This is another one of those ‘Not my garden posts’. Sorry to disappoint, the above photo is definitely not my garden. This week we were in Cambridge for a few days and spent a cold but sunny hour or two at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. It was a diversion on the way back to the station and I offer apologies to anyone out there who was disturbed by the trundling of our suitcase, a noise not compatible with the peaceful surroundings. Before departure the home garden was wrapped up for the cold spell, agapanthus under fleece for the winter and as there wasn’t time to transport the lemon tree to the greenhouse that too had a temporary double layer of fleece. This weekend I hope to get the lemon tree inside and it will be re-fleeced for extra protection when the cold weather settles in. Here’s four from the Winter Garden, Cambridge with its focus on ‘coloured stems, bark and foliage texture with winter flowers and fragrance until mid spring’. This garden begs to visited again in February when the snowdrops and winter aconites appear. The last two are from the Fountain planting.


The Mahonia, Oregon Grape ‘Winter Sun’ in the background draws the visitor down the path. The boundary hedges have been used to frame the colours and to trap the winter scents in the garden. The birch tree behind the bench is betula ermanii ‘Grayswood Hill’.


The colour of the red holly berries and the variegated leaf exploded in the sunshine, botanical details: ilex aquifolium, ‘Argentea Marginata’. Or Silver Margined Holly, in translation. My only holly is the result of a donation form the birds and doesn’t look half as exuberant as this, but then it’s a freebie so I won’t complain.


Scent was much in evidence from this Viburnum farreri, its leaves just turning a coppery red giving a double winter whammy. That’s not a very botanical description, but you get the picture.


It wouldn’t be a winter garden without that trusted favourite, cornus. This one is Cornus alba ‘Siberica’, which seems to be regarded as too vigorous for most gardens, but there are many others to choose from. The bergenia provides a good foil at the base.


Coming out of the Winter Garden now, I couldn’t resist including the planting around the fountains. Here the seed heads of Phlomis russeliana, Turkish Sage, provide strong winter interest. I’d love to take this idea for the garden here, but I don’t think I have the right conditions. But it is something I am contemplating.


The phlomis around the fountain is mixed with a planting of Stipa gigantea, which glowed in the sunshine. There is no doubting why it is called ‘Golden Oats’.

There was much to take in at the Botanic Garden and the website is very helpful, providing planting lists and good descriptions of the garden highlights. It’s well worth a visit, either in person or virtually. Back in my garden I will be continuing to mulch and may even make a start on tulip bulb planting. The compost heap needs a turn and one bin is ready to spread on the veg plot. The dahlias, zinnias, cosmos and roses continue to defy the season and as the temperatures seem to be picking up again for next week I will leave them as they are for a little while longer. The Propagator hosts the SOS meme and all are welcome to take part or simply to read and enjoy.

8 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: A winter garden

  1. It’s always a joy to visit another garden especially in winter, to get ideas from. Phlomis russeliana is an excellent plant in both summer and winter, such a strong statement. I must admit I haven’t tried to grow it, but there are some in local gardens, however most gardens are much more sheltered than mine.

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  2. That’s a beautiful fountain and I love the way the sunshine catches the stipa. I’m embarrassed to say I never went to this garden even though I had ample opportunity, but that was a long time ago before I had got seriously into gardening. The phlomis has great impact – I am imagining it in the snow too, bet it would look dramatic.

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