Plant Selection – Dapper in December! And your chance to get a free garden sketch design…

December can be quite a dull time for the garden, but with a few flowering evergreens, to go along side your existing summer flowering plants, you can still have a continuation of interest. The suggestions below can be planted in with your existing plants to add a bit of colour, or you can plant the selection together in the combination below.


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Betula jacquemonti

The silver birch tree really comes into its own in the winter months. Whilst the striking white stems look great all year, they really stand out once the leaves have fallen. I like to plant silver birch with a dark green back drop behind them, to really show off the white stems. There are many varieties available these days, but I do love the brightness of Betula jacquemonti, especially when planted in groups.

Group planting creates a lot more impact than a stand alone tree. There aren’t many trees that you can plant in groups, but Betulas are well suited and look great. If you have a small garden, then choose one of the smaller forms, like Betula pendula, which has a weeping form.

Garrya eliptica ‘James Roof’

For most of the year, this is quite a dull looking shrub, but in the winter months, the long catkins, which last from November through to February, make it noteworthy. It’s a really good evergreen shrub to have at the back of borders. Its tall arching form provides the perfect backdrop for more showy flowers during the summer, and it helps keep form in the garden in the winter. It’s great when mixed with the silver birch trees as the green foliage helps show of the white stemmed birch.

Mahonia x media ‘Charity’

Mahonias are often considered to be quite an old fashioned shrub, but I like them because, in the right setting, they can look modern and funky. The large rosettes of spiky, glossy, green foliage, are elegant and provide a unique structural form to the backs of plant borders. In the winter months the bright yellow flowers appear. Mahonias are evergreen, and will grow in quite deep shade, through to full sun in most soil types.

Ophiopogon planiscapus Nigrescens

This low-mounding, evergreen grass, is one of my favourite plants. The leaves are black, yes, actual black! It has lilac flowers and grows  in full sun to partial shade in most soils. It doesn’t get that big, so it’s important to plant them in large groups for effect. They look amazing when mixed with yellow or purple leaf plants. The darkness of the foliage sets off other plants and flowers really well and the unusual colour makes it a great, eye-catching, evergreen, garden plant.

Erica carnea ‘Eva’

This winter flowering heather is a delight during the winter months. The lilac flowers look fabulous next to the dark black foliage of the Ophiopogon. They last from December through to March. Ericas prefer an acidic soil, but will tolerate some alkalinity. They will grow quite happily in full sun to partial shade.

BUT do be warned, plants alone will NOT give you a stunning garden – you have to get the design layout right first. If you don’t know how to do that then…

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About Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 20 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!


  1. Hello Rachel,
    I am quite impressed by reading your post and i would like to tell one thing that is you should plant a seed in open space and keep some distance between two plants to grow easily.

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