The excitement of Christmas may now be behind us but there’s still a surprising number of beautiful plants to enjoy in the garden this January. So, here are my top ten plants for January gardens to brighten the dullest of winter’s days…

1. Mahonia x media (Oregon grape) ‘Underway’

Most Mahonias are known for their evergreen spiky leaves and bright yellow winter flowers. This medium-sized variety is a great choice for planting at the back of a shady border. Here, its upright form and evergreen leaves make a good backdrop for summer flowering plants. It comes into its own during the winter months when the pretty scented, yellow flowers appear and bloom for weeks on end.

  • Flowers in winter
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 4m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full shade or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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2. Parrotia persica (Persian ironwood)

This slow growing, densely branched, spreading tree is renowned for its outstanding autumn colour, where the leaves turn fiery shades of crimson and orange. It also produces small, rounded, spider-like clusters of bright red flowers along its branches before the leaves appear in winter. This creates an unexpected display of red in the winter sun. It’s a wonderful tree to include in the garden provided you can give it enough space to spread its beautiful branches as it matures.

  • Flowers winter
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 8m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered or exposed
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3. Erica x darylensis (heather) ‘Kramer’s Red’

Although most heathers are associated with growing in acid soil this superb, long flowering variety will tolerate slightly alkaline soil. It produces masses of deep magenta colour flowers for months on end. The dark green foliage develops deep pink tips in spring and the plant benefits from an annual top dressing of compost.

  • Flowers in winter and spring
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 50cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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4. Helleborus (hellebore) ‘Ice N Roses’

Hellebores are the perfect choice for the front of a border in the winter garden, gracing us with their pretty flowers for weeks on end. This stunning hybrid originates from Germany and is part of the ‘Ice N Roses’ collection. Unlike most hellebores the pink flowers face forward rather than downwards making them much easier to admire as they are also produced on tall stems.

  • Flowers in winter
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 40cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Sheltered
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5. Loropetalum chinensis var. rubrum (Chinese witch hazel) ‘Fire Dance’

Next is a very elegant looking semi-evergreen shrub with purple colour leaves and pink flowers that look like those of witch hazel. Its compact size makes it perfect for growing in containers or for those with smaller gardens. A bonus is that it often flowers again in late summer or early autumn. Very little pruning required, but, if needed, trim lightly soon after flowering as is the case with most spring and early summer flowering shrubs.

  • Flowers in winter
  • Hardy (may need winter protection)
  • Grows to 1m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Partial shade
  • Sheltered
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6. Lonicera fragrantissima (winter flowering honeysuckle)

This delightful deciduous shrub produces sweetly scented, cream-white flowers during the dark, cold months of winter. It’s a joy to discover when out and about in the garden. Pretty purple-flushed green leaves appear in spring. For the best display, plant it near a path or entrance to enable you to fully appreciate its beautiful scent.

  • Flowers in winter
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 2.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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7. Jasminum nudiflorum (winter flowering jasmine)

Cheerful yellow flowers appear in abundance at this time of year. This easy to look after shrubby climber looks good either trained on a trellis or left to scramble over low to medium height walls. Prune back immediately after flowering and, on older plants, prune out about twenty five percent of the old shoots, cutting them at the base of the plant.

  • Flowers in winter
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 2.5m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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8. Garrya elliptica (silk tassel bush)

This evergreen shrub is easy to grow and care for and an ideal choice for beginner gardeners or experienced gardeners with limited time. It will happily grow in both sun or shade, making it a great choice for a north or east facing walls. Come New Year its branches become laden with long, dangling catkins which will surely draw admiring gasps from your visitors.

  • Flowers in winter
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 4m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered or exposed
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9. Viburnum tinus (laurustinus)

This is another low maintenance evergreen shrub with pure white winter flowers. The flowers are beautifully highlighted by the glossy, dark green oval leaves. It grows well in sun or shade and is happiest if given an annual mulch of compost or well-rotted manure and grown out of the way of cold, drying winds.

  • Flowers in winter
  • Hardy through most of the UK
  • Grows to 4m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun, partial shade or full shade
  • Sheltered
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10. Skimmia japonica subsp. reevesiana (skimmia)

If you’re looking for a small, self-fertile, naturally rounded shape, tough evergreen plant, look no further than this handsome shrub. It gives four seasons of interest with red berries from autumn until mid-winter. Red flower buds open in mid-spring to reveal pink tinged white flowers and these last until late summer when the red berries begin to develop.

  • Flowers in winter
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 1m
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered or exposed
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This New Year, brighten up your garden with winter flowering shrubs that will add structure as well as colour. A mix of evergreens and deciduous plants is a great way to bring texture and interest to your borders all year round.

Find out more about adding texture to your garden:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

Adding texture
Adding texture
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