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If you’re anything like me, you find plants irresistible whatever the time of year. If you think that there’ll be no colour in December or plants worth looking at in the garden, these picks suggest differently! Many are sweetly scented, so let’s see if I can change your mind!

1. Anisodontea ‘El Rayo’ (African mallow)

If you buy just one plant this year, I’d urge it to be this evergreen shrub. Friends of mine have it growing in their garden and it’s smothered in flowers all year round! If you like pretty pink flowers growing on light airy stems this is definitely the plant for you.

  • Flowers in summer and autumn
  • Tolerant of low temperatures, but not surviving being frozen
  • Grows to 1m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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2. Lonicera fragrantissima (winter flowering honeysuckle)

Next is this soft scented winter flowering shrub. The joyful fragrance is difficult to communicate in writing, instead you’ll just have to have one in your garden to know how uplifting it is on a cold December morning. Walking outside and smelling it in the air is marvellous.

The flowers are small, soft white/yellow and appear on the stems from December and continue until the leaves appear in early spring. These flowers are very popular with pollinators too.

  • Flowers in winter and spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 2.5m tall and wide
  • Well-drained or moist but well-drained
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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3. Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurascens ‘Freckles’ (clematis)

For a trouble free, evergreen climber that doesn’t need pruning and flowers in the winter, look no further. They can even be grown in a container.

The other lovely thing about this variety is that it has cheerful red and white flowers, unlike most of the other evergreen clematis which tend to have white or cream flowers. It will happily climb up fences or trees but doesn’t like heavy winds, so be sure to plant it in a sheltered spot.

  • Flowers in winter and spring
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 4m tall and 1m wide
  • Moist but well-drained
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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4. Viola x wittrockiana (pansy)

A lot of people think that pansies are annual plants, but they are in fact perennials. Many are bred to flower throughout the year as long as they’re well fed and regularly dead headed.

They make ideal, good value plants for the winter garden and there are many different colours now being bred. So, you can choose from many single colours for a more streamlined colour co-ordinated look.

  • Flowers all year round depending on variety
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 20cm tall and 30cm wide
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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5. Viburnum x bodnantense (arrowwood) ‘Dawn’

The next December plant is another easy to care for, winter flowering scented shrub, on which the pretty pale-pink flowers appear before the leaves. It’s a slender, upright-growing shrub in its early years and is best planted near a path to fully appreciate the delicate scented flowers.

  • Flowers from autumn to spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 2.5m tall and 1.5m wide
  • Well-drained or moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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6. Hamamelis x intermedia (witch hazel) ‘Pallida’

The name of this shrub is said to come from the middle English word ‘Wych’, meaning flexible, probably referring to the tree’s very flexible branches. This is another winter scented beauty which, like the winter honeysuckle, produces its sulphur yellow scented flowers on bare stems.

It looks great when grown with coloured stem dogwoods. It’s one to plant in a sunny winter border and you can also cut some of the scented flowering twigs to brighten inside the house on a dreary December day.

  • Flowers autumn to winter
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 4m tall and 4m wide
  • Well-drained or moist but well-drained
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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7. Cornus sanguinea (dogwood) ‘Winter Flame’

There are many different coloured stem dogwood plants to choose from to brighten your winter garden and this variety won’t disappoint. It will bring a big burst of pure vivid red-orange colour as its coloured stems emerge in all their glory in early winter.

Easy to grow and care for, its compact habit makes it ideal for the small to average size garden.

  • Interest all year round
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 2.5m tall and wide
  • Well-drained or moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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8. Jasminum nudiflorum (winter jasmine)

In China, it is called ‘Yingchun’ which means ‘the flower that welcomes spring’ which it certainly does as spring usually begins just as this little beauty stops flowering.

It doesn’t naturally twine so it’s best tied to a fence for support. Here you’ll be able to fully appreciate its sweet looking bright yellow flowers that are borne on bright green stems. Cutting some of the flowering stems not only gives you cheerful blooms for inside the house but also helps it to regenerate the shrub.

  • Flowers winter to spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 2.5m tall wide
  • Well-drained
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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9. Picea abies (Norway spruce)

What’s December without a Christmas tree? Feel festive all year round with a Norway spruce that will be ready to be decorated in your garden come Christmas time.

These evergreens are perfect for a larger garden as they can grow higher than 12m, or a dwarf conifer may be more suited to a smaller space or winter container display.

  • Evergreen foliage
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows taller than 12m
  • Moist but well-drained
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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10. Sarcococca confusa (sweet box)

Lastly, this winter flowering shrub will delight the senses. It is a slow growing evergreen with tiny pure white flowers which start to appear in December.

However, don’t be fooled by their size because those flowers pump out huge waves of sweet scent which makes them perfect for growing near your home or pathway. They’re also extremely tolerant of shade making them a great choice for a shady corner or woodland border.

  • Flowers in winter
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 2.5m tall and 1.5m wide
  • Moist but well-drained
  • Full shade or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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So cheer up your garden with these plants for December that will brighten up your beds and borders with their flowers, foliage and fragrance.

Spring is here, see my post on spring pollinators:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

spring pollinators
Spring pollinators
Pinterest
Pinterest Board


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