I arrived very late to the joys of evergreen plants, and having enjoyed my first winter experimenting with them in the garden last year, it’s difficult to fathom why it took me so long to be seduced by the un-deciduous.
Limited daylight hours (especially for the commuting classes among us), the continued decay and stasis of the garden, and the (incorrect) presumption that all ‘evergreen plants’ are hardy, tree-like and plain, long dissuaded me from planting for winter.
But the truth is, a wealth of plants can bring vibrant hues of greens, reds, silvers and purples to the garden all year round.
Given the small size of my garden, I have opted to grow my evergreen plants in pots. This affords me the flexibility to keep them mobile throughout the year, interspersing them with new plants in spring and summer, but also re-grouping them for a more permanent siting and display throughout the winter months.
This pot-based approach also has the benefit of being just as relevant for tiny urban balconies, patios or on top of walls, as it does to those fortunate enough to have large gardens.
Here are 8 evergreen plants that have passed the test of a cold winter in my garden in the Peak District.
Pittsoporum Silver Magic
‘Silver Magic’ lives up to its name, and has cast a spell over my humble garden for the past year and a half. The very antithesis of ‘dull and plain’, this plant is hardy yet delicate; a truly intricate addition to the garden, with a real personality to match.
Its tiny leaves defy the harshness of winter, whilst providing a glorious balance in summer.
Whilst lacking the white flowers of its name in winter, my cameilla plants have added a glossy sheen to the greenery at the end of the garden. Whilst hardy and very easy to look after, tiny new tips are very susceptible to frost, so it may be worth covering, or moving them.
Any variety of pieris is also a great bet for evergreen intrigue in the garden. The white edges of this particular variety provide a decorative effect that offsets the green of the leaves, creating a delicate yet structured piece for your garden.
Heuchera ‘Silver Scrolls’
Described by the RHS as ‘more or less evergreen’ clump-forming perennials, my own plant is certainly proving its evergreen credentials, or should that be ever-silver? It’s not hard to see where this plant gets its name.
But the silver leaves, thick green veins, and purple edges and underside provide a very different ‘evergreen’ experience, and when potted next to different plants, truly provides a balance and dimension that creates welcome intrigue in the winter garden.
I could wax lyrical about my love for ferns. The most primal of plants, there are so many different varieties, all of which possess a beguiling quality and a structural brilliance. Known more commonly as heart’s-tongue fern, this hardy variety stays lush, green and vibrant, long after the delicate fronds of its more common relatives have died down in autumn.
Euonymus Emerald and Gold
‘Euonymus’ was the very first Google result that came up when I pulled my phone out of my pocket and first started searching for evergreen plants. Another plant whose naming convention needs no explanation, the brightness of these leaves has brightened up many a winter’s morning.
I inherited this hebe as one of the plants in the garden when I moved here six years ago, and whilst other plants have come and gone as I’ve honed what does and doesn’t work, this beautiful plant has remained one of my favourite staples.
In addition to the unique bark on the stems and trunk, and the delicate shape of the dark green leaves, the bush continues to send forth these most delicate of mauve flowers, long into autumn, with some still swaying proudly in winter winds.
When it comes to ivy, there are two distinct camps: those who see an overgrown plant and its sprawl as a weed or menace to be constantly curtailed, or those who appreciate deliberate planting of smaller, and diverse varieties.
I definitely fall into the latter, and whilst I can’t tell you the official name of this particular plant, I can tell you that it offers huge visual rewards for such a low-maintenance plant.
So there you have it: visual proof that even the most amateur gardener can achieve a resplendent display of diverse colours in the garden throughout the winter, and indeed, throughout the entire year.
Some considered thinking, basic planning, and a tiny dose of motivation is all that’s needed to bring a wealth of intrigue into your garden, patio or balcony this winter.