Fill your garden with sensational scent and incredible colour this winter. Gardens don’t need to be bare and baron during the dormant season, there are plenty of plants to provide flowering interest into your green space and put a smile on your face.
Here are my top ten favourite varieties to embellish your garden, all should be available at your local garden centre.
Winter-flowering heathers are one of those plants often overlooked but they can look really striking.
They add low-growing texture into beds and borders and look fantastic peppered into your patio pots. Often in the garden centre you’ll find them arranged into striking colour pallets; blue and greens or pink, white and purple flowers all mixed together to add a pop of colour.
Hardy heathers are fairly low maintenance too, but my favourite thing about them is that they are beloved by bees—so they’re an all-round winter win.
Winter-flowering pansies and violas are so cheery—they’re the gardener’s staple.
Pick bright purple, yellow and white ones and fill up your pots and window boxes over winter.
This flash of remarkable colour will look great planted into your winter displays and will fare up quite well as long as they’re a hardy variety like the Viola tricolor.
They’re best kept in moist, but well-drained, soil so winter plant them in containers to enable you to move them out of wet weather and prevent the soil getting sodden.
Hardy outdoor cyclamen look really beautiful as something a bit different and are truly breath-taking when planted for naturalising under trees.
These winter heroes flower from autumn right through to spring with an erect upright habit and flag-like petals in pinks, purples and whites.
Cyclamen will quite happily survive frosty weather too, and if you position them next to snowdrops and winter aconites, you’ll have the beginning of a winter woodland adorned in early-flowering finery.
Of course, winter colour isn’t all about flowering interest.
Cornus alba ‘Westonbirt’ (Siberian dogwood) is a small woody shrub that has remarkably red bare stems that offer thickets of stylish and structural splendour during the winter season.
Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’, however, can offer beautiful yellow bark into the mix, as well as white flowers and fruits from spring to autumn—so its ornamental offering will change as the seasons do.
Mahonia shrubs are stunning evergreens, commonly known as barberry.
Their rich green leaves serve as the perfect backdrop to spires of bright yellow flowers with a delicate scent.
In the spring, this shrub is covered in blue-black berries that birds will love.
And they’ll grow just about anywhere, even in shady parts of the garden that need a lift.
Though these are commonly known as the Christmas rose, don’t let their name fool you—they’ll flower right through to spring.
Helleborus niger is a cultivar that will bring your plot colour in the form of snowy whites and bright pinks.
H. Orientalis varieties will flower in white, green and even dark red for a true midwinter marvel.
7. Winter bulbs
Crocus flowers and snowdrops are typically a sign that winter is fading, and spring is on its way.
Usually planted in bulb form during winter, you can also buy pre-grown pot ones in late winter to flower in your own garden.
Else, enjoy the lavender-blue beauty of Crocus speciosus ‘Conqueror’ as autumn turns into winter; start the season off with these sited alongside winter-flowering crocuses and statement snowdrops, to keep your garden awash with colour right through the season.
There is a huge range of viburnum plants that work really well for winter colour.
Keep an eye out for evergreen varieties like V. tinus ‘Eve Price’ which flowers in winter.
Or look out for a brilliant deciduous variety called Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’, which has clusters of scented pink flowers protruding from red buds and dark green leaves with toothy edges. It’s really decorative in garden spaces.
If fragrance is what you’re after, look no further.
This shrub has it all, with both beautiful and intensely-fragrant blooms.
Plant these near to doorways, gates, or paths and the smell just hits you as you walk past. But they will not tolerate drought or waterlogging, so site them where the soil is well-drained and keep them well-watered when weather is dry.
D. odora is a great choice for particularly cold gardens and produces brilliant red fruit when the flowers fade during the summer.
Commonly known as sweet box, it well and truly lives up to its winter-wonder reputation.
The strong heady scent of Sarcococca is something to behold.
It’s quite extraordinary that an aroma you can detect from across the garden is produced from tiny inconspicuous flowers in creamy-white.
So, there you have it, ten plants that will bring wonderful colour in your winter garden.
Happy gardening everyone!
Use your old plastic bottles
as houseplant waterers after
spiking holes in the lid.
Can I re-pot my houseplants now?
Best wait until spring when the increased light levels wake the plants from dormancy. Always pot just one or two sizes bigger rather than move it straight into a massive one, or the plant wastes all its energy on the roots.
What’s the best way to treat my hardwood garden bench?
Sand it down and wipe over with teak oil until you get the finish you want. It’ll take a few hours to dry but once it does, it’ll look brand new and will last you as a beautiful and social spot to sit throughout the season.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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