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Throwing Winter Shapes by Anna Sissons

Every gardener knows that under the cloak of Winter lies a miracle

Social media has been awash with those picture-perfect morning frosts. Sugarcoated gardens sparkle under hazy blue skies, birdsong blasts out from a glistening crabapple tree. These are the mornings to cherish and to down tools for a moment. Later in the morning, as the winter sun strengthens, the Sitting Spiritually garden begins to steam. From the upper terrace day bed, with the garden backlit, you can see the Lonicera hedges subliming.

Winter interest in the garden can be the overlooked understudy until these glorious winter mornings start to hit us. In the Sitting Spiritually garden, winter interest comes from evergreens, robust ornamental grasses, sculptural multi-stem trees and winter-flowering perennials. In the summer months, towering perennials immerse you in a different kind of garden. For now, we can see the bare bones of the garden’s design which is deeply satisfying. We see the gentle curves of the beds, framed by clipped hedging and topiary, and the gravel paths meandering in and out of sight behind golden mounds of Calamagrostis brachytricha. 

Against the well-trimmed topiary, softer shapes accent the garden. The loose domes of Pittosporum Tom Thumb settle the eye along with the tufty ferns and Libertias. Euphorbias dish out the glaucus blues which bask in this light, ping ponging the eye to other glaucous blues in this winter scene - the emerging bulbs, the pristine lawn, back to the euphorbias again. The vertical green accents of evergreen shrubs and columns of ornamental grasses provide a rhythmic architecture. Fergus Garrett, head gardener of Great Dixter recently posted a winter scene, saying that Beth Chatto described these winter shapes as “good furniture”. I love that phrase, the garden’s furniture, ready to be dressed with flowers.

Do winter planting well and your garden will capture this time of year’s unique light and draw you outside for your coffee breaks. What other time of year can you sit and watch your garden steam?

Anna Sissons is the resident gardener at Sitting Spiritually along with her husband, Woody. She also works as a garden designer in the Dorset area.



We would love to recommend the most stunningly beautiful book for breathtaking Winter Garden photos, please do look at Clare Foster & Andrew Montgomery's book, Winter Gardens, read more here

With Many Thanks to Anna Sissons for the Blog

And to Heather Edwards for the photographs of the Sitting Spiritually Garden.

To visit the Sitting Spiritually Garden please call us to make an a time to visit. Viewings are strictly by appointment only.

Posted by Siobhan on January 20th 2022

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