Winter Stem Colour

Like the many winter fragrant plants, attractive winter shrubs and trees don’t need to be in leaf or in flower to be attractive.

Red and orange dogwoods, bright white ornamental brambles and vivid green or yellow willows cannot fail to catch the eye, especially when they are backlit by the low winter sun. These recommended shrubs will tolerate or even enjoy wet conditions, and thrive in most soils, including clay and chalk. For the best winter stem colour, grow them in full sun, however in partial to full shade they will still be attractive.

Shrubs with winter colour are encouraged to stay vivid by a hard pruning method called coppicing, especially on dogwoods, willows and brambles. Copping removes the stems back to a couple of inches above the ground or node where they join the main stem and this is done late winter just before new shoots form.

New growth will form again in the spring producing bright winter stems until they need to be coppiced again every 1-2 years. Trees that require no pruning, such as cherries and birches have beautiful winter bark interest also.

Colourful Dogwoods to try

  • Dogwood ‘Midwinter Fire’ – Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ Has particularly striking autumn colour, especially if grown in full sun. Bears off-white flowers in summer, followed by colourful berries
  • Dogwood ‘Baton Rouge – Cornus alba ‘Baton Rouge’ Striking red stems, the number one red dogwood! White flowers in spring and blueish-white berries in late summer
  • Dogwood ‘Flaviramea’ – Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’ Noted for its outstanding bright yellow winter stems. Clusters of small off-white flowers form around May and June, leading on to white berries in autumn

Colourful Willow and Bramble to try

  • Willow ‘Britzensis’ – Salix alba ‘Britzensis’ Produces bright, coral red young stems. Insignificant small, yellow catkins appear in the spring alongside new mid-green, narrow foliage
    White stemmed bramble – Rubus cockburnianus
    The arching, thorny stems develop a white glow in winter and these look luminous when exposed in the low winter light
  • Silver Fern/Ghost bramble – Rubus thibetanus Long arching grey branches with small thorns, which have silvery green coloured fern like leaves

Attractive Bark to try

  • Himalayan birchBetula utilis var. Jacquemontii Doorenbos  A slender, fast growing birch with particularly fine peeling white bark, even on quite young specimens
  • Tibetan cherry – Prunus serrula Polished mahogany coloured bark, which peels away in bands with age
  • Paperbark maple – Acer griseum Slow-growing, spreading tree with dark red or chestnut bark, which flakes and peels back to reveal new, smooth, orange-red bark beneath

Want to enjoy your garden 365 days of the year, come rain or shine?  We can help, give us a call at 0330 202 1955.

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