We’re all familiar with the abundance of colour our gardens provide us with throughout the year, and never is this colour more welcome than during the first months of the new year. Not only do early flowering plants provide gorgeous colour and interest, but they also spark excitement – for the promise of the joy our gardens will bring for the year ahead.
There are a surprising number of plants which are happy to pop their flowering heads above the parapet early in the year, so with just a little research, planning and careful plant selection, you’ll find it’s easy to get the flowering season started early in your garden – and keep it going well into Spring.
We’ve chosen just a selection of our favourites to share…
This clematis has gorgeous fragrant, nodding, creamy-white Winter flowers speckled inside with maroon flecks from December right through to February. The neat evergreen leaves tint bronze in Winter and, once the flowers have faded, they are followed in the Spring by silky seed heads. Growing up to 2.5m tall, it’s ideal for training over a pergola or archway – and combining it with other clematis which flower at different times will keep colour and interest throughout the year.
Like all clematis, its roots should be shaded, but otherwise it will grow happily in well-drained soil in any aspect. It is borderline hardy though, so may need some Winter protection in colder areas.
This is a group 1 clematis so no regular pruning is required, but if you wish to retain shape and encourage healthy stems from the base to increase spread, then it should be pruned immediately after flowering in mid-late Spring when the danger of frost has passed.
These lovely perennials, some of which are evergreen, and their elegant flowers are perfect for brightening up shady areas during late Winter and early Spring.
They grow in most conditions but thrive in well-drained, humus-rich soil out of direct sunlight. Once established, they don’t respond well to being moved or divided, but they do readily self-seed all over the garden – so once you have one, you can count on having more!
There are lots of varieties, but our favourites include Helleborus niger with delicate white flowers from January to April, Helleborus sternii with clusters of showy green flowers tinged with pink and purple from February to March and Helleborus orientalis which flowers from February to April and offers a range of colours from white through to slate black!
Winter honeysuckle is a wonderful, bushy Winter-flowering shrub which produces fragrant, creamy-white flowers from December to March which are sometimes followed by dull red berries.
Categorised as deciduous, it’s semi-evergreen in milder locations and produces rich green leaves tinged with purple.
It’s fully hardy and, although it’s happy in any aspect and any soil, it will flower most profusely when trained against a sunny wall – and if you can plant it close to an entrance or pathway, you’ll be able to enjoy the lovely fragrance every time you pass.
Removing a third of the flowering shoots of an established plants after flowering and applying a mulch of well-rotted compost or manure in early Spring will keep it well-fed and happily producing strong young growth for new flowers.
Skimmias are prized for their multi-season displays – from their glossy, evergreen leaves and colourful Winter berries to their gorgeously scented white flowers in April and May. Most varieties are either male or female, so two different varieties are necessary to ensure a good show of bright red berries.
They’re great for difficult areas as they are happy in shade (full sun can cause the leaves to turn yellow), and can even tolerate deep shade.
They’re also easy to look after and need little care and attention once established, although they do prefer neutral to acidic soil, so it may be necessary to add ericaceous compost at planting time and then feed appropriately each Spring to maintain plant health.
As we said, these are a few of our favourites – and they provide just a glimpse of the delights that early flowering plants can provide, and that you can enjoy in your garden.
Visit us in-store NOW to appreciate the full range of early flowering plants we have available. Choose your own favourites and get ready to set your garden alight with early colour!