7 Tips I Use To Make My Cottage Garden Look Good in Winter

We all want our garden to look beautiful year-round, but winter is the hardest time of year to achieve this.

From the beginning, I design my cottage garden with winter on the mind. The goal is, even in winter, the most challenging of seasons, my garden will still look lovely

There are so many options I use to add winter interest to my garden – maybe some that you haven’t thought of.  I have 7 tips below I have used in my own cottage garden.

1. evergreens Anchor my winter cottage garden.

When designing my latest cottage garden, I considered what I wanted it to look like in winter, even though it was just spring.

My garden is right in front of my house so, even though it is designed to peak in summer, I still wanted a lovely space in winter.

Evergreens are such a great option for the obvious reason – they are green all year.

They also anchor the cottage garden.

An anchor plant is one that you begin with when designing your garden. Once you choose which plant or plants will be your anchor, you then must decide on the placement. All the other plants in the garden will be designed around the anchor plant(s). Many times an anchor plant is an evergreen. It gives weight to the garden year-round.

I chose 3 ‘Green Velvet’ boxwoods as a starting place. They are lovely in the cottage garden, even in winter.

I planted them small (to save money) and I am still waiting on them to reach full height.

You can plant them larger from the beginning if you want.

I also chose different varieties of nandina as anchor plants for my garden. They give great color throughout the season.

I am falling more and more in love with ‘Obsession’ nandina. It is the perfect manageable size and so pretty.

I also like my ‘Flirt’ nandina. Such a cute evergreen, although neither is truly green.

In my side cottage garden, I started with ‘Emerald Heights’ distylium as my evergreen anchor plant and built around it.

It gives winter interest but also hides my HVAC unit. I love its erratic upright shape and the cuttings from it are great for arrangements.

Next to it, I planted ‘October Magic’ camellia because I saw it at the nursery in full bloom and couldn’t leave without it. It is also upright with lovely dark green leaves in winter. It has an abundance of blooms in, you guessed it, October.

I also use ‘Cherry Blast’ loripetalum, ‘Spilled Wine’ weigela, and nine bark to add some unique color year-round to my cottage garden. Their leaves are different ranges of purple that you get to keep even in winter.

2. Certain branches add interest to my winter cottage garden.

My favorite branches of interest for my winter cottage garden are Natchez Crepe Myrtle and River Birch. It is the bark on the tree that will capture you.

Natchez Crepe Myrtle bark will peel and leave a lovely red tinge.

River Birch bark peels like crazy and looks amazing when all the leaves drop. I like to plant them at the corner of the house to add height.

I have always wanted to try Red Twig Dogwood in my cottage garden. When it drops all its foliage, the wood branches are a lovely red. How beautiful would that be in the snow?

3. Cottage garden décor is lovely all year, even in winter.

This is such an easy one. It is a must if you are wanting a beautiful winter cottage garden.

In my front cottage garden, I have a trellis, a rain chain, a birdhouse, and a birdbath.

In my side cottage garden, I have a bench, another birdbath, and containers with an obelisk in them.

You can also add arbors, pergolas, bird feeders (a plus because you also get the birds), a well-placed swing, or even a bottle tree.

For all the tips on how to make your cottage garden charming, see my ideas HERE.

Probably the best cottage garden decor I have is my stepping stone pathway. It stays charming year-round. For info on how I made my stepping stone path, check out my blog here.

4. Winter-blooming cottage garden flowers are a win.

Your selection of winter-blooming flowers is slimmer than in the other seasons, but there are a few flowers that work for me to give blooms in winter.

I love planting pansies and violas. You get a big bang for your buck.

7 Tips I Use To Make My Cottage Garden Look Good in Winter 4. Winter-Blooming Flowers, Pansies

These pansies still look amazing. I have these planted in a container, but they will also do well in the ground in zone 7, where I live.

Plant them in fall and enjoy them through winter and, with a little fertilizer, they will show out all spring and into the first part of summer.

When the temps are freezing, they will freeze too. When the temps warm just a bit above freezing, they thaw out and continue to shine. So these are good in mild winters. I’m in zone 7 and love them.

My sister plants Hellebore also called Lenton Rose (yes, a rose that blooms in winter). I am jealous every January when they pop out. If you want a sweet surprise from your winter cottage garden, plant Hellebore and enjoy.

You can also try different cabbages. I have never planted them in my garden, but I think they are lovely.

5. Ornamental grasses and hydrangeas in my cottage garden are a plus in winter.

I have my front porch steps flanked with ornamental grasses. I love them in the summer and fall. When they start drying out, I just leave them throughout the winter.

They will still wave in the breeze and stay upright, even with snow falling. I wait to cut them back in early spring.

Ornamental grasses are an ideal year-round plant, which is just one reason I always add them to my cottage gardens.

My favorite is ‘Dwarf Hameln’ fountain grass but I’m also captivated by ‘Pink Muhly’ grass. It is planted in my cottage garden and my son’s. I want to see how it matures to decide if it’s as amazing as I suspect.

Hydrangeas are planted in front of my porch. Even though they aren’t evergreen, I leave the large bloom heads after the color fades. They will dry out and still look great for the winter cottage garden.

They add structure and interest. Hydrangeas are worth the money for the way they can perform year-round.

6. Early-blooming spring bulbs are welcome in my winter cottage garden.

The emergence of these beauties in my garden signals to me that winter is almost over. Spring is coming. They are hope blooming right there in my garden.

Crocus is the first in my garden to appear and it is so filled with color after a long winter. I also plant early-blooming daffodils and tulips and hyacinth.

Check the tag on the bulbs you purchase to see when the variety will bloom.

All of these get planted in the fall, so you must have winter in mind early to get them in the ground. They are worth your time.

To learn how I plant bulbs in containers, you can see my blog HERE.

7. Plants with berries give fun pops of color in any winter cottage garden.

In some of my past gardens, I have planted ‘Buford’ hollies. Their berries in the summer were so lovely. You get the benefit of an evergreen, plus berries in the winter.

My mom has a ‘Gulf Stream’ nandina at her side door. (Everyone uses the side door.) It will be LOADED with red berries every winter, plus is it evergreen. It is stunning.

Have you ever seen  Beautyberry? If you ever see it covered in berries, you will not forget it. The berries are purple and are abundant on the stems. I haven’t tried it, but would love to.

7 Tips I Use To Make My Cottage Garden Look Good in Winter 7. Plants with Berries

Beautyberry explodes with berries in the fall. The berries will hang on throughout winter, if the birds don’t find them.

Winterberry is a also a favorite in the winter cottage garden for its red berries which the birds simply love. You will love it too. Another one on my list to try.

8. Containers in my winter cottage garden give great options.

7 Tips I Use To Make My Cottage Garden Look Good in Winter 8. Containers with Violas

I planted these violas in the fall and they continue to produce a ton of color even though we have had some repetitive nights in the 20’s. It’s only December 2nd so our coldest weather is ahead of us but violas have always bounced back for me.

Containers are throughout my winter cottage garden for little spots of happiness. I use them to plant pansies and violas like I mentioned above.

But I also have some with an obelisk in the planter. No flowers for winter. It just adds interest. I let the beauty of the shape of the obelisk show out during winter. How easy is that?

7 Tips I Use To Make My Cottage Garden Look Good in Winter 7. Containers with Evergreens

I planted a boxwood in this container. It will add color and beauty all winter long – even after I remove the festive red Christmas decor.

You can also plant an evergreen boxwood or small tree in the containers. I have found these on sale at the end of the season and have planted them in containers to add to my winter cottage garden.

I have added lights to the plants and have even put a lit-up star on the top of the miniature trees during Christmas.

After winter, you can plant the evergreens in your garden, or put them somewhere so you can use them again the next winter.

My mom has a spot no one sees. She plants the evergreens from her containers in the soil there to hold them until the following winter.

I think it worked for three seasons until they were too big for the container.

For a list of the 9 best evergreen shrubs to plant in a container for winter, check out my blog HERE.

If you want to see how I planted an evergreen tree in a container for winter, I share it all HERE.

9. Vines in the winter cottage garden are beautiful.

Ivy can be a bear to maintain, but if you can do it, it is amazing in winter.

Plant it on a trellis or arbor, but be sure to watch where it is climbing. You only want it to grow where you want it. Once established, it can take off. You have to stay on top of it.

Another option is to plant it in a container where you can more easily control it. I would put an obelisk or some type of trellis in the container to give the ivy something to grow on.

I don’t have any planted in my cottage garden, but my friend does and it looks stunning.

There are other evergreen vines to try if you do a little research.

 

Tracy Crosland, owner of Hey Honeysuckle

Written by Tracy Crosland

I was born and raised in small town, Tennessee. As an adult, I found myself thrown into the construction business, building new homes in our little town. My son has now taken over the business, which means I do what I want - a lot of playing in my cottage flower garden (zone 7). I hope you feel the love in my garden and in my blogs and that we can be friends.

For more about me, click HERE.

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My Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your First Cottage Garden

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Cottage gardens make me happy!
I want you to be happy too…so this one’s on me.

  • Learn to create your first cottage garden with step-by-step instructions
  • A checklist to keep you on track
  • Images to inspire
  • Increase the value of your home by thousands
  • Explode your happiness quotient
  • Oh, yeah. It’s free! Free happiness.