Colour and light affect our mood, so if you are someone that feels down as the nights draw in, take steps now. People who get the blues in winter are said to be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). For your home and workplace you can buy daylight bulbs and fluorescent tubes that mimic the effects of strong sunlight on the body but for lasting effect you should inject some bright colours into your home and garden.
If you have a fireplace, you will feel happier, and warmer, when sitting by a blazing log fire. This is as much to do with the colour of flames as the heat they generate. Red and orange stand for joy and give energy and strength
You can recreate these feelings in the garden and without striking a match! Make Cornus Midwinter Fire the focal feature in a border that can be viewed from your armchair indoors and you’ll have a surge of energy and find plenty to smile about from when the leaves drop in autumn to reveal the colourful stems that remain bright until when the leaf buds break in March.
For brilliant flame coloured stems plant Cornus sanguinea Midwinter Fire. This plant produces small, creamy-white flowers in May and June and its green leaves turn orange-yellow in autumn. It works particularly well with red or purple-stemmed varieties of dogwood
To encourage you out into the garden even on dank days, add some scented winter flowering shrubs. First choice should be witch hazels like Hamamellis Pallida, which produces weather-proof, spicy scented, spider-like sulphur yellow flowers that are over 3cm across and congregate in dense clusters along the naked stems. Most witch hazel have yellow blooms but there are some, such as the variety Magic Fire, that have red flowers. Witch hazels are very slow growing, so are perfect for growing in pots on the patio.
The two tone with hazel variety Jelena has blooms that look orange
Spice up your borders with winter sweet (Chimonanthus praecox Grandiflorus) a large flowering shrub that once established produces pale waxy-yellow flowers that are stained with red and have an exotic spicy scent from December through to March. Grow it in a well-draining soil and to guarantee flowers train it against a warm wall. Prune in March to maintain a wall-hugging plant.
Winter Sweet, Chimonanthus praecox Grandiflorus, produces pale waxy-yellow flowers that are stained with red and have an exotic spicy scent from December through to March.
For winter colour and an unforgettable scent you won’t beat shrubby honeysuckles, cream-flowered Lonicera fragrantissima, which reaches 2m in height or the slightly shorter and very fragrant Lonicera x purpusii Winter Beauty. Several other good species offer colour and scent in late spring and early summer, including Lonicera korolkowii and Lonicera maackii, which reach about 3x3m in five years.
The Holly-leaved Mahonia aquifolium spreads by underground suckers making it a good ground cover and its shiny evergreen leaves take on bronze, purple and red tints in autumn
Honey-like fragrant blooms and the evergreen holly-like leaves of Mahonia aquifolium make it a striking plant for late winter and early spring borders. It’s a real bird-puller too as they find the powder blue-black berries that appear in autumn and early winter a real treat.
Mahonia berries are also edible and good for making jams and jelly
Remember that scented plants need protection from the prevailing wind for you to enjoy their fragrance to the full. Choose the most sheltered part of the garden for creating fragrant flowerbeds, corridors and sitting areas. Trees, hedges and evergreen shrubs all make good scent savers, filtering wind and holding warm air in the garden later in the evening that either bare walls or fences.
A dab of paint can lift ever the dullest garden out of the doldrums. Cuprinol’s Garden Shades (cuprinol.co.uk) range of wood stains incudes bright colours and trendy shades such as the colour of the year, Heart Wood, which looks stunning with splashes of Warm Flax, Yellow Pollen and Crushed Chilli paint
Paint can be applied quickly for an instant result and if you want to add some bling to your painted pots, how about using brightly coloured aggregate or glass mulch to help brighten us patio pots, window boxes and bare soil?
Green is a calming, balancing colour and an evergreen hedge or collection of evergreen shrubs can be of great benefit whenever we feel the effects of stress. A garden-worthy plants is the guelder rose, Viburnum opulus. Look out for Notcutts Variety, which has large, white lacecap flowers in June and shiny red fruits that the birds adore. Keep birds busy by planting a Cotoneaster horizontalis at its feet.
Follow nature’s lead by adding energising red to calming green by planting shrubs that preduce red berries and a holly hedge. The variety J C van Tol is a self-fertile holly so you can be sure of a crop of red berries
If you tend to find yourself naturally gravitating towards an overriding colour time and time again, it could be telling you somehing about your personality. Yellow lovers will be giving away a clue to their intellectual yearnings, while the person who plants and paints with pinks, blues and lavenders is likely to to have a gentle, calm personilty.
Watch out for the person who pairs purple and red, they will have a thirst for flower and will definitely want to attract attention!