Winter is the time of year for woody plants. The time when the deciduous acer trees show off their lacy intricate branch structure. While pools of dry soft foliage carpet the ground beneath. Similarly others are clothed with foliage only it’s brown and withered.
Evergreen conifers stand tall and statuesque in hues of green and blue. Some with layer upon layer of arching branches. While others with dark green spires. Conifers get noticed at this time of year while during the other seasons you’d barely notice them.
Branklyn garden is closed to the public over the winter. But I was allowed to capture the garden ‘from behind closed gates’. Let me show you the winter interest plants. Those that few others get to see …
Winter Interest Plants
There was a tapestry of muted colours and contours (unlike in Autumn) underneath the tree canopy. Hummocks of dwarf everygreen conifers contrasting with the silver spikey leaves of the Celmisia’s and the dwarf azalea’s. Hellebores were already poking through the ground with their plump buds. While some autumn coloured leaves still lingered along with some of the autumn flowering Cyclamen hederifolium.
|Standing at the base of the rock garden and looking over towards the stream and pond – you’ll see this spot again at the end of the post only this time in April 2014.|
|still some autumn colour is holding on even in December|
|evergreens giving colour and contour in December|
Many of the alpine plants had glass covers to protect them from the worst of the winter wet.
|Leucogenes leontopodium glass winter protection covered in a layer of fine snowflakes|
This edelweiss is a perennial herb with silver leaves covered in fine silky hairs and is native to the rocky outcrops on the mountains on the North Island of New Zealand. It’s quite similar to our European edelweiss Leontopodium alpinum which also needs gritty soil and protected from the worst of the winter wet.
While even in December the very first deep red flowers from the Rhododendron thomsonii were opening. It was a very cold morning when I was in Branklyn with a little dusting of snow on some parts of the garden. This flower probably had had a bit of a shock when it opened its first flowers much too early.
|Rhododendron thomsonii subsp. thomsonii with large waxy flowers with orbicular evergreen leaves|
This shrub is found in the forests of the Himalayas and was first discovered by John Dalton Hooker. It was named after Dr Thomas Thomson. He was not only an old friend of Hooker’s but also a 19th century Scottish naturalist. Thomson accompanied Hooker on many treks in India. It’s thanks to Thomson that we now have Primula denticulata, Primula rosea, Frittiaria imperialis and many more in our gardens today.
|Winter interest plants – Rhododendron thomsonii subsp. thomsonii with exfoliating bark|
John Grimshaw has recently written about Rhododendron thomsonii on his blog. He grows one of the originals that was brought back to the UK by Hooker and grown from seed. I don’t know if Dorothy and John Renton brought some of that original stock decades later to Branklyn or not.
|winter interest plants – Rhododendron thomsonii subsp. thomsonii seed heads|
Ornamental Bark and Texture
Tree trunks with striking bark give winter impact and interest in the garden .. so tactile that you just want to touch, feel and peel those flaky edges!
Along with the Rhododendron thomonsii bark there was also the exfoliating bark from the Acer griseum, Stewarti and Betula trees.
Seedheads and the browns of winter
There were many seedheads in the garden. I’m drawn to the larger hydrangea cultivars that grow in the garden. They have delicate papery seed heads which make good photography subjects.
Colourful Clusters of Winter Berries
Scented Winter Flowers
Then there were the clusters of pale pink flowers and the scent from the many Viburnum’s already in flower.
|winter interest plants – Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’|
You can see more of the photos from Branklyn Garden in December here on one of my google plus albums.
Now that Spring has arrived Branklyn Garden is open again to the public. If you’re near Perth then why not drop by for a little visit – or even visit their facebook page. At the moment the gardens look spectacular with erythroniums, oxlips and rhododendrons and I’ll be sharing those photos here very soon.
Here’s a little glimpse of what the garden has looked like in April … every week there is something new to discover in the garden.
|Branklyn Garden in April 2014|