What does winter offer today, I ask, as I set off on a walk with the dogs, and the answer comes: colours of the most amazing subtlety. Here then is a selection.

Rosemary Border

Setting the scene, the late sun through the Upper Rosemary Border shows up greens – pale and limey or dark; shades of grey; browns, mainly rich, even reddish; bleached straw; and the cold blue shadows.


This Leonitus ocynifolia has featured before, in summer and in winter – interestingly in a much more colourful post after rain, exactly two years ago. Today it is the contrast between the shaded background and sunlit foreground which intrigues me.

Pin oak & bench

The bench at the top end of the Makou Dam will feature a few times now.

Makou Dam 1

Here it is again across the water.

Pearly light

I had never thought of pearl as a winter colour before.

Makou Dam 2

I love the reflection of the winter trees showing up the twigs.

Furthest end of Beech Axis

Looking back from the furthest end of the Beech Axis – in summer these hydrangeas are brilliant blue. The strong contrast in the light turns the Beech Borders into a featureless abstract where even I, who know what I’m looking at, can recognise little.

beech borders

But I do find this feature, one of the simplest in my gardens, very effective no matter the season or the light. Yet, to my surprise I find I don’t have a single good post          on it where one can see the effect of the design in summer. There are so-so pics         hidden in long posts here.

Path below overflow

This is a view I’ve not shared before. Were it  not that I’m tiring of the blue light, I would rather like this shot. It is taken in the woodland around the overflow of Freddie’s Dam. At the end of this stretch there is a little bridge before the path splits and curves.

Overflow waterfall

Just above the bridge the water cascades into a pool, and from there the course is relatively level as it returns to the bottom of the valley.

Spiraea and hydrangea

A touch more colour at last, but the frost-bleached heads of the hydrangeas really do not photograph well in the cold blue light.

Stairs beyond bridge

I love the steps that lead up from the curved bridge over the outlet at Freddie’s Dam in their sombre winter garb.

along carpet garden 2

All over the garden piles of brushwood await mulching, and we have yet to do this year’s pruning… I need to arrange the mulching soon!

Winter view of The House that Jack Built

For several years now the view of The House that Jack Built from the Carpet Garden has been obscured by the red Japanese Maple. This winter we will lift the canopy, so that the reflection at least is visible from here.


A cornucopia of compost… except that it is not compost, but leafmould. Last year’s supply has been moved out and awaits distribution, whilst the yellow leaves of the snake-bark maple continued to fall once the clearing and gathering had been done.

Mexican Oak twig

A silver-green twig, fallen from a Mexican Oak – Quercus mexicana.


The darkest of our Japanese Maples, and beyond it the fallen leaves of a Swamp Cypress colour the ground.

Red plane

The autumn colours drained away, the Red Plane still contributes to the winter palette.

Low sunlight across water oak leaves

And a last shaft of sunlight falls across a carpet of oak leaves

Bench at Quercus Corner

This bench looks across Quercus Corner, my dad’s collection of oak trees at the furthest end of the garden.

Entrance to Valley Garden

Nearby is another feature I don’t think I’ve ever commented on: an unusual asymmetrical cone formed with Abelia hedges marks the entrance to the Old Fountain Garden which lies between Quercus Corner and the lowest of the plantations.

A cottage in a meadow

A cottage across a meadow…


And to conclude – a photo that sums up the topic rather well: winter palette


6 thoughts on “WINTER PALETTE

    • It is lovely, Jill. At first I was disappointed that our local wilding is not the neater and more full-flowered L. leonuris, but the sheer bulk of this one these days, both winter and summer, makes it one of my favourite plants in the garden!

  1. the neutral winter palettes against blue backdrops particularly effective. Great to ‘tour’ round here in your footsteps and see the sedater season making an entrance in brown velvets and pearls, like a Dowager.

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