Winter has its ups and downs, whilst we’re treated with festive cheer and an excuse to eat all the food we can stomach, we must also suffer cold weather and darkened days. The flower garden too can produce a surprising number of blooms during the winter months, with everything from jasmine to aconites around to provide a splash of colour during the colder months. But, while the sun may be dimmed, winter gardens have never been brighter and here are ten reasons why:
1. Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’
Otherwise known as Red-barked Dogwood, no pun intended, this cultivar has been granted the esteemed honour of Award of Garden Merit, based on its beauty and hardiness despite a very low level of maintenance. Deciduous garden shrubs and more rarely small trees with four-petaled flowers in early spring. Grown in full sun it will yield bright red bark and need only be trimmed once every spring to provide best results.
2. Salix alba ‘Vitellina’
This large deciduous willow will provide flowers in the form of catkins and and pale green foliage, not to mention an imposing figure in the garden as they can reach heights of up to 30m. The strong flexible rods are excellent for basketry, but most outstanding is the rich egg-yolk coloured stems providing winter garden color. But the beauty of this tree becomes apparent in winter when the stems take on a deep golden yellow colour.
3. Rubus cockburnianus
Also known as the White-Stemmed Bramble, Rubus is a highly durable upright hedge that is at its best in the winter months, providing an understated purple/white colour scheme on its thorny stems. On a side note, this species also performs as filler for empty spaces in your garden with lush green summer foliage.
4. Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’
Not to be confused with its ‘giraldii’ variant, this violet coloured berry has none of the symbiotic requirements that made the aforementioned cultivar such a tricky customer. Capable of thriving on its own, this vibrant fruiting shrub should be a definite consideration for your winter garden.
5. Jasminum nudiflorum – This shrub is necessary for anyone with a winter garden. Flower is salverform, one inch (3-4 cm), bright yellow flowers with no fragrance. In November the flowers start blooming at the base of the stems and slowly bloom up the stems. By late winter/early spring, it flowers at the tips of the stems. Bright, glossy, green pinnate leaves divided into 3 oblong leaflets. J. nudiflorum is a winter charmer blooming on leafless stems. Another choice jasmine for winter blooming is J. mesnyi with similar growth habits and flowers.
Pyracantha is a large, thorny, evergreen shrub that will complement the list so far with further crimson, orange or yellow fruit and the promise of white flowers in the summer. They are also a sizeable investment in beauty as they can grow up to 6m tall, but can also be pruned to form a dense, impenetrable hedge.
7. Erica carnea
The beauty of this cultivar, aside from its soon to become apparent aesthetic, is how extremely hardy it is. Able to flourish in almost any soil type or weather, it is a good fall back option. So durable are they, that they will happily flower through snow and frost, not to mention smother weeds whilst only requiring attention every few years. Flowers come in white, mauve or pink and foliage can also range from darkest emerald to lime green.
8. Hamamelis mollis
The Chinese Witch Hazel will provide gorgeous, fragrant yellow, orange or red flowers in the December to February period and thus is ideal for a winter garden and for cutting for indoors. Best to provide a layer of silt or gravel in order to help its root growth by ensuring well drained soil.
9. Mahonia japonica ‘Charity’
Similarly to the Witch Hazel, the ‘Charity’ cultivar of this already popular Mahonia will provide a fragrant dash of yellow to your winter canvas not to mention a brutal beauty with its spiky green foliage.
10. Viburnum bodnantense
Treated to a rich, loamy soil, there are few winter blooms that can match Viburnum’s ‘Dawn’ cultivar for beauty or perfume, bearing tight clusters of pink and white flowers with the bonus of a fine scent.