Body, soul and gardening - plants to brighten the gloomier months

The days are getting shorter and temperatures dropping, but don’t let it get you down - embrace winter’s beauty with cheerful berries, bark and blooms.

Berries and hips: As well as shining out on a winter’s day, berries and hips will attract the birds – which always lifts the spirits.  Pyracantha varieties such as ‘Orange Glow’ look magnificent trained against a wall.  For more unusual colour, try the shrub Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’ for clusters of violet berries, the Rowan tree Sorbus cashmiriana for a show of big white berries and Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade,’ to enjoy the orange-pink winged fruit.  Include roses for winter interest, as well as their lovely summer flowers: Rosa moyesii has long orange-red fruits, Rosa rugosa varieties such as dark pink ‘Roseraie de l’Hay’ has large round red fruit and Rosa glauca combines striking purple grey foliage and red hips.

Bark and stems: Look out for trees with wonderful bark such as Acer griseum with its peeling cinnamon-coloured bark, shining white Betula utilis var. jacquemontii, conker-brown Prunus serrula and Parrotia persica, with its steely-grey bark that flakes off to add winter texture. Red-barked dogwood look wonderful en masse underplanted with crocuses or bright evergreen Carex ‘Evergold.’

Beautiful blooms: Hellebores are a winter winner and delicate pink Cyclamen coum make a gorgeous winter woodland with snowdrops and aconites. The shrub Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ has masses of scented pink blooms in winter and Hamamelis mollis (Witch Hazel) produces beautifully scented petals on bare stems.  And if you’re inspired to buy something new for your garden, now is a good time to plant it.