Great Plants this Month Winter

‘The brittle violin of frost’

Louse Sims

The timing couldn’t be better: the RHS have just announced that the Chelsea Flower Show 2021 is being postponed until September. Bring in the new! This is a big opportunity for change: for the RHS, for the nurserywomen and men, for the exhibitors and for us, the gardeners.

The announcement also coincides with a few days of frost we’ve had recently, which underline the importance of late summer and early autumn flowering perennials; not only do they extend the flowering season of our gardens, but for the most part they remain upright and statuesque long after the rest have collapsed, and consequently they will continue to give you pleasure all through the winter. Please ignore those who tell you that you need to cut the whole lot down now, to crack on and get ready for spring, for if you take that advice, you will be missing the whole point of the seasons. I will be leaving our bed well alone for another month.

Let’s be honest, most of us can feel happy with the look of our gardens in springtime – it’s all so fresh and green and full of optimism. The trick is to realise its full potential and to aim for an autumn high. So, by all means stick with your roses, your irises, lupins and geraniums, but their moment in the spotlight is limited: make room also for grasses, asters, salvias, eryngium and veronicastrum. There is an abundant choice, so take my advice and buy yourself a lockdown treat of ‘Late Summer Flowers’ by Marina Christopher, and look forward to re-booting the border!

‘Gardener, if you listen, listen well:
Plant for your winter pleasure, when the months
Dishearten; plant to find a fragile note
Touched from the brittle violin of frost.’

Vita Sackville-West

NB Louise has published a beautifully produced book of her plant profiles – A Plant for Each Week of the Year. It costs £9.99 inc P & P and is for sale in our online shop here.

More NB If you’d like a bit more gardening chitchat from the3growbags, please type your email address here and we’ll send you a new post every Saturday morning

By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

3 replies on “‘The brittle violin of frost’”

And so we get to the end of January, and it is still raining cats and dogs! Thank you for timely inspiration and practical ideas, SO much better than planting too early and nursing weedy seedlings for weeks.

We will be looking at the garden afresh!


Wonderful photo of the winter border (whose?) beautifully planted for winter effect. Lots of lovely textures and forms accentuated by the frost. I love ‘ the brittle violin of frost ‘, inspired choice of words. Unfortunately I’ve been cutting back untidy clumps of dead foliage which were not adding anything to my winter garden. Note to self : plant better things!

Hello Jennie, Louise here – and I’m so glad you enjoyed the frosty photo of our border which we planted up six years ago almost exclusively with late flowering perennials and grasses. I have never regretted it!

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