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Planting Picks and Tips for an Evergreen Winter Garden  

A winter garden can bring great joy during those dreaded dark days when the climate and hours of daylight may prevent you from fully enjoying the outdoors. However, a carefully curated garden can be cherished all year round. 

As a rule of (green) thumb, one-third of the garden should contain evergreen plants. For more visible areas, these proportions should be increased. Neatly clipped hedges and globes such as Buxus (Box) are currently very popular in both traditional and contemporary gardens. There are also many wonderful evergreen plants that provide the same visual drama but without the extensive maintenance requirements. It is also important to consider your garden’s nectar sources for intrepid invertebrates such as bees and butterflies; they appear from hibernation on warmer days. This can be achieved quite easily using winter flowering shrubs and herbaceous plants.


The shape of rounded evergreens provides a wonderful contrast against plants with looser forms. Rounded evergreens make effective ‘full stops’ at the end of a border. They command attention and draw your eye down towards the bed.

Evergreen Planting Picks 

Here some of our favourite evergreen plant picks that require little or no clipping: 

Pittosporum Tenuifolium ‘Golf Ball’

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Golf Ball’


☀️ 1.5 x Sun Exposure 

 Produces a compact globe up to 1m across and seldom needs clipping. 



Cupressus Sempervirens Stricta Group ‘Italian Cypress’ 

Cupressus sempervirens Stricta Group


☀️ 1 x Sun Exposure 

The Italian Cypress provides wonderful fastigiate drama, whether used individually or in a rhythm.




Sarcococca Confusa ‘Sweet Box’

Sarcococca confusa


☀️ 1/2 x Sun Exposure 

The flowers are tiny but have a powerful sweet scent 




Helleborus x Hybridus Harvington Picotee ‘Lenton Rose Hellebore’ 


☀️ 1/2 x Sun Exposure 

Hellebore hybrids are available in a wide variety of colours. They’re best viewed faced on, so plant them intentionally.   




Mahonia x Media ‘Charity’ 

Mahonia x media ‘Charity’


☀️ 1.5 x Sun Exposure 

An evergreen shrub with architectural foliage and beautifully scented winter blooms.




Evergreen Planting Tips

🌱 Soak your plants with water:

Ideally, immerse your plants into a bucket of water for about 20 minutes before planting, or until bubbles stop appearing. Soaking the plant ensures it’s well hydrated but it also helps the plant adapt to its new environment.

🧑‍🌾 Planting Hole: 

Dig a planting hole that’s twice the width of the root ball. Extend the hole if the soil is compacted.

🌿Correct Depth: 

Place the plant so it sits at the same level as its pot. As a rule, bulbs should be planted at a depth of 2 to 3 times the depth of the bulb itself.  

🌳Tease the Roots: 

Part the roots gently from one another, this will help to promote healthy root growth.

🐌 Slow-release Fertilizer: 

As the name suggests, it releases nutrients at a steady rate through the growing season.  It can be added either to the planting hole or scattered around the soil surface.

🍄 Mycorrhizal Fungi: 

It help plants to establish themselves by building successful underground networks for better uptake of moisture and nutrients.

🌷 Final Titivation: 

Give your plants a final prune to discard any dead or diseased material. This will encourage more bushy growth. If planting trees or climbers, you may need to provide support and affix appropriate ties. 


Buying Tips 

While it can be tempting to pick up a bargain or perform plant rescue, it is preferable to select healthy plants. Even if you pay slightly more for them, this will reduce the chances of introducing new pests or diseases to your patch!  If you wish to reduce the cost, purchase smaller plants. You can even have a go at propagating them yourself. 

When selecting plants, look for: 

✅ Healthy roots – Tip plants out of their pots to check for healthy root growth. Avoid root-bound plants. Root bound plants are identifiable when the roots compact at the bottom of the pot.   

✅ Healthy Leaves – Autumn purchases enable you to appraise plant health at the end of the growing season when the foliage is no longer fresh. Avoid plants with signs of disease or predation. While notches out of the leaf may relate to a past visitor, they may also be a sign of a (quite literally) deeper-rooted problem.  

We hope that this information can help you turn your garden into an evergreen paradise. If you have any other evergreen plants that you simply adore, share them on our socials by tagging #thenationaldesignacademy. 

NDA Magazine

Explore the world of design within the pages of the NDA magazine, where innovation, creativity, and inspiration reshape our lives and deepens our connections. This quarterly publication features a broad array of articles written by our tutors from the National Design Academy, along with contributions from guests.

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