These short days and dark evenings may seem like a dormant time for gardens, but it is actually a crucial period for garden and planting design. Assessing what a garden needs in the winter cannot be underestimated, as continued planting design provides the structure for a garden’s overall aesthetic. Without the distraction of vibrant blooms and lush foliage, the winter garden reveals the true layout of its design.

When visiting a new garden design commission, it is advantageous to see it during the quiet of winter. Winter is the perfect time to observe a garden’s structure or lack thereof, without the busy froth of spring and summer. It is during this time that you can truly see the wood from the trees and see the space for what it truly is. We encourage sustainability in every project, view our sustainable sandbanks garden project here.

Winter Garden Design

The Perfect Plants for Winter Weather

One of the most captivating aspects of the winter garden is the presence of frost. Delicate ice crystals can cover the leaves of plants such as Pittosporum and Azalea, highlighting their edges and adding a touch of beauty. Ballotta leaves for example, when covered in frost, come to life in a visual display. Seed heads of plants like Phlomis, Verbena, Monarda, Echinacea, and Rudbeckia provide interesting textures and shapes. Ornamental grasses, such as Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ provide movement and are a valuable addition to the palette for planting design in the winter garden.

Evergreen plants play a vital role in winter. Sarcococca and Daphne, with their fragrant blooms, can be strategically positioned near doorways to provide a delightful waft of scent throughout the garden. These evergreen plants not only contribute to the overall structure of the garden but also provide a sensory experience for visitors.

Leaving perennial plants in the garden during winter is also crucial for maintaining structure. Plant

s such as Phlomis, Echinacea, and Astilbe may not be in full bloom during this time, but their architectural forms add interest and texture to the garden. These perennials also provide habitat and food sources for wildlife, further enhancing the garden’s ecological value.

Cultivating a Wildlife Garden in the Winter

Winter berries are another essential element of planting design in the winter garden. Plants like Holly, Cotoneaster, and Euonymus (spindle) produce vibrant berries that can provide a pop of colour against the muted winter landscape. These berries also serve as a valuable food source for wildlife, attracting birds and other animals to the garden. Additionally, shrubs and trees such as Hazel and Garrya display elegant catkins, adding an extra layer of interest and texture. To encourage wildlife to flourish, check out our last blog, where you can find the top 10 tips for developing a wildlife garden.

Winter bulbs, such as Cyclamen and Snowdrops, offer a burst of colour and life during the colder months. These delicate flowers emerge from the earth, defying the harsh conditions and signalling the imminent arrival of spring. Snowdrops, Crocus, and Iris reticulata are particularly cheery enchanting, dotting the garden with their vibrant hues and signs of life emerging.

The Importance of Winter Garden Design

There is something truly magical about the reset and seemingly quiet time in the garden during winter. It is a time to appreciate the last remaining rose, without the busyness of spring and summer. It is a time of anticipation for the coming season, as plants begin to rise from the earth. Snowdrops, crocus, and iris reticulata are just a few examples of the plants that herald the arrival of spring, reminding us of the cyclical nature of the garden. It is also a time to assess what your garden needs and how you can best optimise the space for the next season.

In conclusion, garden and planting design is of utmost importance throughout the winter. The winter provides the perfect opportunity to assess your garden design. From frost-kissed leaves to winter berries and scented flowers, winter can provide an opportunity to create a unique space.

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Autumn in your garden means embracing simplicity and finding joy in nature. It’s the season of cosy jumpers, hot drinks, and the satisfying crunch of leaves underfoot. Your wildlife garden can become a haven of simple pleasures – watching birds flock to feeders, observing squirrels busily gathering nuts, and enjoying the earthy scent of damp soil.

Creating a wildlife garden in the autumn will not only add vibrant hues to your outdoor space but also contribute significantly to the ecosystem. By adopting sustainable practices and embracing the natural cycle of the season, you can transform your garden into a haven for various creatures, enhancing biodiversity and fostering a harmonious environment. View our recent project in Sandbanks, where we transformed a garden into a sustainable haven.

How to craft the perfect wildlife garden.

In this guide, we’ll explore essential steps to make your garden more inviting for wildlife, emphasising the principles of a sustainable and eco-friendly wildlife garden. To find more about Noscoe Garden Design’s wildlife garden services, click here.

There are specific steps you can take to make your garden even more inviting for wildlife and increase biodiversity:

  1. Leave seed heads and plant stems: Resist the urge to tidy. Instead of cutting back all the plants, leave seed heads standing. They provide valuable food sources and shelter for birds and insects during the colder months.
  2. Provide water sources: Place shallow dishes or bird baths in your garden to provide water for birds and other wildlife. Make sure to keep them clean and filled regularly.
  3. Create a compost pile: Autumn is a great time to start a compost pile with fallen leaves and garden waste. This not only reduces waste but also attracts insects and other decomposers, which in turn provide food for birds and other wildlife.
  4. Install bird feeders: Set up bird feeders filled with seeds and nuts. This will attract a variety of bird species to your garden, providing entertainment and food for them.
  5. Plant native trees and shrubs: Choose native trees and shrubs that provide food and shelter for wildlife. Species such as Prunus (cherry), Malus (crab apple), and Crataegus (hawthorn) are great options for attracting birds and insects.
  6. Create habitat piles: Stack logs, branches, and leaves in a corner of your wildlife garden to create a habitat pile. This provides valuable shelter for insects, small mammals, and amphibians.
  7. Plant late-blooming flowers: Include later flowering plants in your garden to provide nectar for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Examples include Aster, Hylotelephium (sedums), Verbena and Salvia ‘Amistad’.
  8. Avoid chemical pesticides: Instead of using chemical pesticides, opt for natural pest control methods such as companion planting, beneficial insects, and handpicking pests. This helps maintain a healthy ecosystem in your garden.
  9. Provide nesting boxes: Install bird boxes, bat boxes, and insect hotels to provide nesting sites for different species. Make sure they are placed in suitable locations and maintained properly.
  10. Maintain a diverse garden structure: Keep a mix of different plant heights and structures in your garden, including trees, shrubs, and groundcover. This provides varied habitats for wildlife.

Incorporating these tips into your gardening routine transforms your space into a thriving wildlife garden. By nurturing a sustainable garden, you not only provide a safe habitat for birds, insects, and other wildlife but also contribute to the overall health of the environment. Read more about sustainable gardening from the Royal Horticultural Society here.



Eco-Friendly Garden Practices

Embracing eco-friendly practices not only enhances the beauty of your garden but also plays a vital role in preserving our planet’s biodiversity.

Simple eco-friendly practices can make a significant difference. Consider composting your garden waste, turning it into nutrient-rich soil that reduces the need for chemical fertilisers. Opt for natural pest control methods, avoiding harmful pesticides, and encouraging beneficial insects to thrive. Collect rainwater to water your plants, conserving this precious resource. Planting native species not only attracts local wildlife but also requires less water and maintenance, reducing your ecological footprint. Learn more about our approach to gardening.

By adopting these eco-friendly habits, your garden becomes a testament to the harmony between humans and nature, creating a greener, more sustainable tomorrow for all.

So, go ahead, create your wildlife haven this autumn, and revel in the joy of observing nature flourish in your very own eco garden.



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Reuse, recycle, repurpose. At the core of many of our designs, this garden was no exception.

Small but full of character, this sustainable Sandbanks garden has been transformed from a stark, soulless car park to a soft, lush garden full of life. The garden serves as a retreat away from the hubbub of busy beaches, buckets and spades.

The front garden was previously a driveway and expanse of block paving with a low wall to delineate the exposed seating area. Now, still with ample parking, we have created this sustainable Sandbanks Garden. We lifted sections of block paving to create generous borders on either side of a newly laid section of clay pavers to lead you to the front door. To understand our approach further, click here.

Paving was lifted either side of the front door to soften the façade of the house with planting. The majority of the existing limestone paving remains but is enhanced by the contrast in colour and texture with the dark grey clay pavers.


The old timber sleepers from the driveway raised beds were repurposed as stepping stones through shingles. The shingle that has been reused previously served as a border mulch. Tough plants such as Sea thrift, Alchemilla erythropoda and Erigeron were planted into the shingle to add to the bare foot sensory experience.

We rehomed many of the client’s existing plants brought with them from their previous homes and added many other plants to create an immersive, wildlife-rich planting scheme. The planting envelops the multiple seating areas, to maximise the sun. We have used visual screens of frothy, light planting to break up the areas and encompass the multiple seating spaces.

To the rear of the property sits a secluded courtyard garden, complete with a bespoke pergola. The timber pergola is partially covered, to house water sports kit such as paddle boards, etc., but also provides sheltered seating under the Cedar shingle roof.

Stark rendered walls were knocked down and slabs of limestone were lifted to soften the expanse of paving and accommodate pockets of robust planting. Walls have been painted with warm tones of terracotta which contrast beautifully with the plants and black painted timber cladding.

Timber sleeper stepping stones through shingle have been salvaged, linking materials to the front garden. Bamboo screening on the walls remains. Climbers scramble over the pergola and walls, including prolific Akebia quinata and Trachelospermum jasminoides for the wonderful scent. Pleached hornbeam trees provide privacy from overlooking buildings and create a sense of seclusion.

This sustainable garden in Sandbanks has employed a light tough approach.

We’ve reused, recycled and repurposed materials where possible, with the addition of well-placed features to address the balance of hard and soft elements. The courtyard gardens have been transformed into welcoming spaces for homeowners and wildlife alike.

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