Masterclass - planting a garden for all seasons

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Planting a garden for year-round delight

The best gardens are ever changing. They surprise and delight every day of the year. We need those plants that look good all year round, but an entire garden that looks basically the same all year is a missed opportunity.

Most plants have at least one season with the X-factor, be it their flowers foliage or fruit or maybe even their bark. Be sure to include something deciduous in your planting plan. Trees and shrubs that lose their leaves in winter provide some of the most spectacular spring flowering and most vibrant autumn tones.

Plant something for every season…


In spring it’s easy have a beautiful garden, but get your garden looking amazing in winter and there’s a good chance it will look amazing all year round. It’s easy to forget that flowers are not the only things that bestow seasonal interest. Trees and shrubs with brightly coloured or glamorously textured bark stand out in winter. This is also the time for colourful berries and decorative fruit.

Beautiful bark:

  • Acer griseum (paper bark maple) 
  • Betula papyrifera (paper birch)                    
  • Cornus sanguinea  ‘Midwinter Fire’ (dogwood)                                  
  • Eucalyptus (gum trees)                        
  • Hoheria populnea (NZ lacebark)       
  • Lagerstoemia   (crepe myrtles)
  • Prunus serrula  (Tibetan cherry)

Berries and fruit:

  • Citrus trees
  • Idesia polycarpa (wonder tree)         
  • Ilex (holly)
  • Malus   (crabapples)
  • Nandina domestica ‘Richmond’
  • Sarcococca ruscifolia (Christmas box)
  • Sorbus (Rowan tree)
  • Viburnum trilobum

Winter flowers:  

  • Aloe
  • Camellias
  • Daphne                                   
  • Erica   
  • Garrya elliptica         
  • Leucadendron 
  • Loropetalum (fringe flower)
  • Luculia
  • Metrosideros ‘Tahiti’
  • Protea 


From earliest spring azaleas and rhododendrons put on jaw-dropping displays of colour. The deciduous azaleas are particular drama queens. These sizeable shrubs flaunt fragrant bouquets of gold, orange and rosy pink. If you prefer a more demure colour scheme, look to the perfume-packed deciduous viburnums or lilacs (Syringa) for an equally floriferous performance. If space is limited consider hebes, lavenders, ericas and evergreen azaleas, these compact shrubs punch way above their weight with the colour they produce on their small tidy frames.


  • Azaleas
  • Clematis
  • Cornus
  • Laburnum
  • Magnolia
  • Malus floribunda
  • Malus ‘Ioensis Plena’
  • Philadelphus
  • Syringa
  • Viburnum


  • Azaleas
  • Callistemom
  • Camellia
  • Veronica (hebe)
  • Kalmia
  • Lavender
  • Leptospermum
  • Michelia
  • Rhododendron


After the exuberance of spring, a summer garden can feel a bit flat. Post Christmas the gloss can really come off, especially in a dry year. But a beautiful shade tree makes all the difference, shrubs with fabulous foliage have a cool soothing effect, and late summer bloomers provide a welcome injection of colour.

Summer flowering:

  • Backhousia citriodora
  • Bougainvillea
  • Cistus (rock rose)
  • Grevillea
  • Hibiscus
  • Hydrangea
  • Lagerstroemia (crepe myrtle)
  • Magnolia
  • Metrosideros (pohutukawa)
  • Roses
  • Vireya rhododendrons

Shade trees:

  • Acer palmatum (Japanese maple)
  • Ginkgo
  • Gleditsia
  • Jacaranda
  • Melia azedarach (Persian Lilac)
  • Prunus (Flowering Cherries)
  • Robinia


Every garden needs a splash of spectacular autumn foliage. Autumn colours are brightest in colder climates, but the likes of Liquidamber trees and smoke bush (Cotinus), will fire up with just a hint of winter chill.

Autumn colour:

  • Acer (Japanese maples)
  • Berberis (ornamental barberry varieties)
  • Blueberries
  • Cercis ‘Forest Pansy’  (judas tree)
  • Cornus (dogwood)
  • Cotinus (smoke bush)
  • Ginkgo
  • Hydrangea quercifolia (oak leaf hydrangea)
  • Liquidamber
  • Nyssa sylvatica
  • Parottia persica (ironwood)
  • Prunus (Japanese flowering cherries)
  • Zelcova serrata (Japanese elm)


Look for these products, tips and advice at a Go Gardening Store near you.



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