In the dark days of Winter when our gardens are sleeping, plants with a different annual cycle can provide us with beautiful flowers and lovely scent to enjoy.
With just a bit of planning and careful plant selection, you can ensure great Winter interest to keep you going until Spring. This is also beneficial to pollinators that remain active during our coldest months, such as hoverflies and some bumblebees, who we are sure will be grateful too!
We’ve concentrated on shrubs when selecting our top choices for colour, flowers and scent, but there are bulbs and perennials too, so whatever your garden size, there’ll be something you can incorporate into your planting scheme.
Top of our list are the witch hazels (pictured above) which flower in mild periods from Autumn until April with beautiful, spidery, sweetly-scented flowers in a choice of red, orange or yellow. They grow to about 8 x 6ft and are great for the border – and they’ll happily grow in a pot too.
Living up to its common name, the Sweet Box has gorgeous sweetly-scented, pure white flowers from December to March, wonderfully highlighted by the lustrous dark green leaves.
Happiest in partial to deep shade, this dense evergreen shrub is the perfect addition to a woodland garden or shady border – but don’t forget to plant it close to an entrance or path so that you can fully appreciate the fabulous, vanilla fragance!
The brightly coloured stems of these plants in oranges, reds and yellows are a wonderful sight on a Winter day. They’re easy to care for too and will grow in any situation – all you need to do to ensure the best display is to cut out all of the oldest stems annually in March and feed them with manure to trigger lots of new shoots.
These upright plants have a rosette of holly-like evergreen leaves with long spikes of yellow flowers with powerful scent throughout the Winter. They prefer light shade and a bit of shelter and only need cutting back (after flowering) when they start to get ‘leggy’.
Skimmias provide colour through their beautiful red berries which last all Winter. And if you choose these neat, compact shrubs don’t forget that you may need male and female plants to ensure your berry display – which is followed by clusters of white flowers in March/April.
Remember, colour can be green and what better way to incorporate green than with conifers? These hardy plants offer a range of colours to choose from, provide evergreen interest all year and come in a range of sizes to suit your available space. We did a feature on them a while ago so click here to check out our guide and discover the joy of conifers for yourself.
The large saucer-shape flowers of the hellebore (right) can be white, pink or purple depending on the variety with flowering time ranging from mid-Winter to late Spring. They like a sheltered spot in light shade and you’ll need to be wary of slugs and snails which like to nibble the buds!
You could also choose Arum, with its large, glossy and beautifully variegated arrowhead-shaped leaves which provides truly striking Winter foliage. Appearing in late Autumn, the leaves form dense ground cover until early Spring when they die back to rest over Summer.
Or how about Bergenia? ‘Abendglut’ which provides lovely Winter interest with its bright, red/purple foliage – and then you can enjoy the beautiful red flowers it displays in Spring.
There are so many varieties of snowdrop (right) to choose from with single or double flowers and they are best naturalized under shrubs or in grass where they’ll come up year after year.
You could also choose winter aconite, which blooms at the same time as snowdrops. These buttercup-like flowers form a bright, glossy carpet wherever they are planted, and if you only have a few then plant them in a container for a real show to have close to the house.
And one of the earliest crocuses to bloom is crocus tommasinianus. Its pale lilac buds are narrow and upright and open to reveal beautiful deep lilac centres. They spread slowly and don’t need dividing until the clumps are overcrowded.
So these are our favourites and they provide just a glimpse of the colours you can enjoy in your garden during the dark days.
Visit us in-store NOW to appreciate the full range of Winter interest plants we have available, including our wonderful collections of skimmia, conifers and hellebores. Choose your own favourites and get ready to set your garden ablaze with colour this Winter!