How can we have colour through the winter in the cottage garden style?
I’ve been round the garden and taken pics of any colour I can find, other than green.
As well as red pots, you can buy clay pebbles in various colours that look and feel like Maltesers, to top dress the pots. It’s mainly to aid watering and to stop the soil splashing away but I think it looks nicer than brown earth, especially when there’s nothing showing in the pot.
Here is the bag of the red ones
I use red for some and lovely pinky brown Hydroleca pebbles for others.
They are the top dressing for my acer in its pot.
Colour from plants
This Epimedium in a shallow pot looks great all year round and then goes red right now. They are fantastic plants. Check them out from online nurseries.
Even some plastic trugs lying about can add a contrast to the greens and browns in the front garden.
The edge of my little pond, below, is encircled by a collection of old terracotta pots – and they have such a lovely warm natural colour. New ones would do just as well; the contrast of green with the rust colour is lovely all the year around but in the winter when there’s a lot of dying greenery they sing out against the plants and the dark water. I got these from Jsgardens.co.uk years ago and even when they break they look just fine.
You might think the colour of your watering can doesn’t matter much but why not have a lovely red one rather than green, black or grey. It’s in the dark months that these little things add up to a colourful garden rather than a dull one.
I wrote about having permanent colour in the garden in the summer here using furniture and pots.
It’s easy to have bursting colour in summer but even then in my garden there isn’t that much colour from plants.
Below is that stalwart salvia “Amistad” which flowers from July/August through to Christmas if you’re lucky. The purple shines out in the low light of autumn. Cold places lift them indoors for the winter but here in London it’s safe to leave them out and hope for the best.
You can see how dull the paving looks from October onwards, getting blacker and slimier through the winter. I usually power wash it in late winter to start the year but till then it’s not much to lift the heart. That’s why I need all these other little things to brighten up the garden.
So to sum up, in a small garden I get colour in the dark days from bits here and there; trugs, pots, decorative pebbles, watering can, and of course furniture. It’s best to appreciate what we’ve got in the dark months and wait for the yellow crocus and early daffodils to appear in February.
Thanks for taking a look at my blog this month and let’s hope 2021 brings us lots of gardening joy.
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19 comments on "How to have colour in the winter cottage garden"
What an inspiring article this is. Shows that you have a good imagination. Like the idea of top dressing the pots.
Thankyou so much Sally for your comment. Yes top dressing pots can be such a visual addition to the garden. The Hydroleca pebbles are probably the easiest and cheapest way to do it, having no weight they don’t make the pots heavier the way gravel does. All these colours are warm colours so that helps. Thanks again for taking the time to comment.
I particularly like the terracotta pots tumbling into your pond. Also a nice way to repurpose the half broken ones, I seem to have far more of these than I ever need for lining the bottom of pots.
Thanks Rae for your comment and yes, I can confirm that broken pots are just fine, even piece of pots are just fine. I drop broken pots into the tiny pond and they are so great for creatures to hide in. I only seem to have newts and a frog or two but no frogspawn at all this year. But yes, aren’t the pots in a sausage shape just great. Can’t recall how I got that idea but it’ll last forever and I imagine creatures hide in the gaps too.
The blue chair! You haven’t mentioned your blue chair! It’s a beaut and I’d love one, or two. Where can I get one dyou know? Thanks. (Great, timely article btw. Lifted my spirits. And as usual, no faffing about. Appreciated 😀)
Oh Joan what a wonderful comment! I love that. No faffing about! That’ll be my mantra from now on. Well the blue chair is just a bistro chair, 2 chairs and a table from somewhere easy on the web. They have so many great colours once you look. thanks so much for your comment. It has lifted MY spirits!!
Lovely autumn colours.
Thankyou so much Barbara. I hope you have lovely colours too where you are.
I enjoyed this article and it has given me a nudge to find some autumn colours for the area outside my back door and visible from the kitchen window.
I top dress my pots with 10mm yellow chippings from the local builders merchant, shifting the 20kg bags in and out of the car give me a workout!
I love your blue chair, just the thing to enjoy a sunny autumn day.
Thanks so much for your comment Tina. Using yellow clippings sounds a much better idea than buying tiny bags of pebbles like I have. I will rethink that for next time. And yes, the blue chair is lovely isn’t it. Happy gardening. Julie
Great article giving us lots of ideas
Thanks so much for that Brendan, it’s heartening to know I can share my ideas and people like them. Best wishes, Julie
The building merchants’ chippings do double duty. I sieve them (more workout!) and use the fine chippings to mix in with my potting compost to aid drainage, and the larger ones to top dress my pots. The grit is also quite sharp-edged and helps deter slugs and snails, we have huge quantities of those down here in the damp South West!
Good point Tina
I have a small mostly shade garden. It never occurred to me that I could grow epimedium in pots for colour at this time of the year. I thought it was going to be just me, the ferns and the geranium nodosum! (And the acer I’m just about to plant up into a pot.) I’m going to look into the epimedium. Thanks so much for the inspiration. Happy gardening.
Hello Anne, how great to hear I have given you an idea. I will post some more pics of my epimediums as they really are the most wonderful plants for shade and are happy to be completely neglected. Have you thought of Japanese grasses in pots? My blog shows them and they are fabulous. I will find some more pics. I think a small garden is a wonderful thing – not too much work and lots of joy. Happy gardening to you too. Julie
Hello, I have just found your inspirational blog. I’m a lifelong keen gardener also keen on fantastic colours in the garden.
I especially like your idea of the red clay pebbles and have been trying to find some for my red pots. There seems to be any amount of clay pebbles sold online but I can’t find, specifically, red ones. Any idea where I could look now, please?
Thankyou for your lovely message – welcome to my blog. I will pop out to the shed and get the bag and give you the name – just need to get dressed first. Julie
I’ll put a photo on Instagram Jane as I don’t know how to put a photo here.