Mid winter can bring icy cold or drab wet days so you will want something cheerful to look at. Last month I covered some evergreen planting ideas and here are some more for a space maybe 2m in length by 1m depth.
Yellow and red are cheerful colours in an evergreen shrub. Yellow foliage and scented white flowers in spring can be provided by Choisya ternata Sundance. This is sometimes known as Mexican Orange Blossom. Grow in a sunny sheltered spot, good for a space by a fence or wall but not in an open windswept position. It forms a rounded shape to about 1.5m tall and can be cut back in early spring to keep it to shape. Red foliage can be provided by Photinia Red Robin with glossy leathery leaves and bright red shoots. Best kept trimmed to size in a relatively sheltered space. If you have acid soil, grow the evergreen Pieris Forest Flame for pink or red new shoots in spring.
As a contrast try a Euphorbia characias subsp. Wulfenii – a bit of a mouthful of a name. As you can see from the photo this is a perennial with grey green foliage. It has lime green bottle brush bracts in spring that look very dramatic. Also likes a slightly sheltered position, well drained soil and when happy, will set seed. Just watch for the milky white sap which can cause skin irritation. Always wear gloves when gardening.
I also love the ground cover plants that quietly do their bit and are never showy. Bergenias come in many sizes but the smaller ones such as Baby Doll have lovely rich green rounded leaves and stems of pink bell like flowers in spring. Growing to about 30cms tall they make a good edging plant for any relatively moist soil in sun or shade, sheltered or exposed. One of my clients has a larger leaved Bergenia, edging a long curved border in a very exposed position. In winter the leaves turn a rich russet red. A contrasting front of border plant would be Euonymus Emerald Gaiety with its cream and green leaves which can be trimmed to make a neat plant about 45cms tall.
Not much to do in the garden in January but you can get out and prune apple and pear trees. Established trees should not need much pruning. Any branches that are rubbing, growing inwards or diseased should be cut out. Cut out the top third of the main leaders or side branches to encourage blossom on side shoots.
Cut back deciduous hedging such as Beech, Hawthorn and the very spiny Pyracantha. The latter is a lovely berrying plant but it has 2cm long needle sharp spines that are as strong as nails and will go through leather gloves. Be careful when pruning.