Favourite seedheads for winter structure

Seedheads glistening with frost play an important part in bringing structural winter interest to the garden. Here's five plants that can be happily left to provide a eyecatching display

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Five favourite seedheads

Plant structure in the winter garden can be as striking as anything formal or built – walls, hedges or gates – with as much interest to be found in the seedheads of smaller herbaceous plants as there is in the soaring branches of bare trees or the skeletons of leafless shrubs. Rimed with frost and faded to dusty shades of brown and grey, and almost unrecognisable from their heyday in summer, they bring a different sort of architectural drama in winter. 

 

Cynara cardunculus
Good for strong vertical structure in the depths of winter.

 

 

 

 

 

Foeniculum vulgare
When festooned with spider webs, trimmed by the hoar frost, the skeletal frames sparkle like crystals.

 

 

 

 

Aster ‘Little Carlow’ (cordifolius hybrid)
The seedheads provide food for birds and insects alike and gleam like fireflies in winter moonlight.

 

 

 

 

Papaver somniferum
Remarkable for the way it metamorphoses from bright blowsiness in summer to dignified architectural austerity in winter.

 

 

 

 

Miscanthus sinensis
Another shelter for insects in winter and the drooping plumes shimmy in the low golden winter light. 

 

 

 

 

Ligularia 'Britt Marie Crawford'
The seedheads are particularly attractive covered in dew or rimed with hoar frost on a clear winter's day.

 

 

 

 

Cephalaria litvinovii
Great for attracting pollinators. Its strong, branched stems and small, cream, scabious-like flowers persist as seedheads into the winter months.

 

 

 

 

• Images by Lynn Keddie, Maayke de Ridder and Jason Ingram

 

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