Over the last few months I’ve been peering into other people’s gardens at every opportunity, searching for plants that manage to hold their own through the bleak winter months. Naturally enough I spotted lots of jolly-looking hollies, spotty-leaved Aucubas and plenty of conifers.
The plants that really excited me, however, were the shrubs and herbaceous perennials that are overlooked in lists of winter plants and yet, if left alone (by which I mean not tidied up once they’ve gone over), gamely soldier on, earning their keep despite being dormant, dead or decaying. The old flower heads on this Hydrangea, for example, are as beautiful on a cold, grey morning as they are when bathed in summer sunshine. At the back of a border, they add drama and texture when it is needed most.
Yet more for the list.
NB: when I posted this in haste last night, I forgot to name the Hydrangea in the top two photographs, it is Hydrangea petiolaris – the climbing hydrangea. And I also forgot to add the final photograph which is Hydrangea aspera ‘Villosa Group’, a beautiful velvet leaved variety with a tree-like habit. As you will see from the links, both plants are fabulous when in bloom.