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Winter Garden Inspiration | Hellebores and Acers

As seen at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens: Helleborus niger ‘Jesko’, Corydalis elata, Polystichum tsussimense, Acer pensylvanicum ‘Erythrocladum’


Winter may traditionally be thought of as a time of decay in the garden, but by planting frost-friendly plants and those with interesting colours of bark and foliage, you can create plenty of reasons to still brave the garden during the colder months.

The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, located next to our Braishfield Plant Centre near Romsey in Hampshire, is a fantastic source of year-round planting inspiration.

A fabulous planting combination to maintain low and high-level interest in your garden during winter is a mix of Acer, Helleborus, ferns and plants with attractive winter foliage like Corydalis. This combination works equally well in small gardens, or even in containers, as it does in larger spaces.

Helleborus niger ‘Jesko’


Winter-flowing Hellebores are ideal for brightening a shady corner of the garden with their combination of delicate appearance and hardiness. There is a huge variety of Hellebores available. For a guarantee of excellent breeding, we recommend varieties from the Helleborus Gold Collection, bred by the German family-run nursery, Heuger, as they have all been put through stringent tests of quality before being admitted into the collection.

Helleborus niger, known as the ‘Christmas Rose’ due to their usual flowering time, are a superb species Hellebore found in the central southern European mountains (Switzerland, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and Italy). Forms like ‘Jesko’ (pictured here), ‘Wintergold’, ‘Jonas’ or ‘Joel’ are all top choices.

Helleborus niger ‘Jesko’ in the moist winter soil


For ground level company, combine Helleborus with ferns, such as Polystichum tsussimense, which offer attractive feathery texture along with a year-round vivid green. Many spring and summer flowering plants also continue to offer attractive green foliage through the colder months, like Corydalis elata with its vibrant fringed leaves.

Polystichum tsussimense


Corydalis elata


Acer pensylvanicum ‘Erythrocladum’


A brilliant year-round tree is the Acer. The foliage may be gone in winter, but many varieties maintain outstanding colours and textures of bark. Acer pensylvanicum ‘Erythrocladum’, for example, is a medium-sized maple with spectacular red-orange bark with white stripes.

Acer palmatum varieties are slow-growing and perfect for the smaller garden. Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’ is a classic variety with striking orange-red winter stems while newer introductions such as ‘Bi-Hoo’ (yellow) and ‘Going Green’ offer a great colour palette for winter in your garden.


For more information about Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, click here