By Bec Wenzel
Although we see spring as the time of year where we get huge amounts of colour, winter can also be a time to have stunning vibrance in the garden. While there may not be as many flowers around, many plants thrive in the winter months, and really show off their colours. Foliage is the real hero of the garden at this time of year with striking displays of reds, purples and greens.
Some plants that really stand out to me for their fabulous foliage are:
Nandina domestica “Gulfstream”
Nandina gulfstream is such a versatile little shrub for the home garden. It is a beautiful plant year round with bamboo-like foliage that turns to a vibrant red in the cooler months. It is a compact and bushy shrub growing just over half a metre tall and wide.
Nandina looks great used for borders, mass planted and grown in containers. You may also consider growing it as a low, informal hedge. It is complemented by being planted with other plants with deep, glossy green leaves such as camelia or viburnum. It is a hardy shrub that grows best in full sun to light shade. The more sun, the more vibrant the colour will be.
Another of the varieties of nandina you may want to check out that I find equally appealing is Nandina firepower. Also just as vibrant in winter.
Leucadendrons are hardy shrubs with masses of colour through the winter months. They can be tall and erect making a great feature plant in the garden. Some of them can also be a bit more compact for smaller areas. They come in tones of reds, greens and yellows really brightening up those long winter days. They thrive on neglect and are drought tolerant. Well-drained soil and full sun is a must. They will need very little water but I would still recommend watering over the drier months. They are long lasting and look impressive in a vase amongst flower arrangements.
A plant that I always think looks a little unique and provides an interesting show in the garden. It has blue green foliage that is tipped in maroon in winter followed in spring by masses of lime green flowers that look equally amazing and provide a different kind of show. It’s truly a plant that keeps giving all year long.
Euphorbia looks great in a mixed garden bed with its mound forming habit, it reaches just over half a metre tall and wide. They also look good planted on mass and can be grown in coastal areas. I really love this plant for its easy care nature. They are a hardy plant requiring little attention. A well-drained soil and full sun is best for these beauties. Cut back flowering stems to ground level when they have finished flowering. Wearing gloves is a must if pruning as they have a milk like sap which may irritate the skin.
Loropetalums are one of the first plants I fell in love with when I was learning the gardening trade. It’s such a gorgeous shrub with unique colours and flower combos. It not only looks stunning as a shrub in the garden but is extremely impressive when made into a standard. There are different varieties available with tones of burgundy and pink flowers. It is another easy care plant that really shines in the cooler months. Pairing loropetalum with something silver/blue such as westringia contrasts well.
Pittosporum Little Kiwi
A dwarf variety that reaches just over a metre high and wide. It has tight lime green foliage. It can be used to create structure in the garden by forming balls, rounded mounds, hedges or topiaries. Pair it with something dark such as phormium black magic or loropetalum burgundy to make a statement.
There are just so many amazing colours out now, I’m always blown away with just how colourful they can make a garden. As they are bred for the home garden most are compact and make a great feature. They can be grown in pots, in groups or clusters, waves and patterns. Try turning them into a thriller, filler, spiller masterpiece in a favourite pot. Pair dark colours with white stones or lighter coloured plants. Some varieties to look out for are Jester, dark delight and rainbow red just to name a few.