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Winter flowers

Top Ten Ideas for Winter Flowers in your Garden

Winter Flowers for all the Seasons

Although you might have to look a bit harder to spot winter flowers,  it’s possible at least in most parts of  the uk, to have something interesting to see all year round in your garden.

Planning a successful all seasons garden depends on bold structure, a definite style and a good range of core plants that are attractive for most of the year.

Winter garden

Many plants have one season of interest then retire into the background for the rest of the year. Others never cease to catch the eye. Some may not need to flower to attract attention. The peeling bark and polished stems of many trees, for example, bring beauty into the garden at any time of year, but perhaps particularly in winter months. Himalayan birches have bark in a variety of textures and shades of colour from dazzling white to coppery brown to enrich the winter scene.

Tree bark

The shape and silhouette of a plant and the shadow it creates in every slanting ray of sunshine contribute to all-season value. A group of dogwoods, such as the stunning Cornus Sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ will demand attention on even the gloomiest of winter days.

Winter colour

Getting the winter scene right is a good starting point for a successful garden for all seasons. Use the framework to plan for the more abundant displays of spring and summer. Aim for a balance of evergreen and deciduous plants so the basic design can then be fleshed out with perennial, annuals and bulbs. Resist the temptation to plant a restricting planting scheme that looks stunning in June and July but bare in winter months. Plan for a garden with a full range of the subtleties of  seasonal moods so you can enjoy the outdoor space, whatever the time of year. Most winter flowering plants, although flowers are small, have very good scent in order to attract the few insects that are around. As a starting point, here are my TOP TEN plants for winter interest:

  1. Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’

    This shrub has deep pink flowers which are on show during mild periods throughout the winter. It also has a wonderful fragrance and so is a great shrub to plant close to the house or near garden paths. Bring the garden indoors and add some colour to a dark windowsill – Viburnum x bodnantense, when cut, will last for a long time.

    2. Erica carnea ‘Springwood White’

    Winter flowering heather Unlike most Heathers, this attractive, slightly trailing, evergreen shrub will tolerate some alkaline in the soil, so if you love the look of Heathers but don’t have an acid soil, this plant makes a good choice. The ideal situation for heathers is in a rock garden, where the soil is free draining. They will not tolerate being water-logged at all and do best in an open sunny site. After flowering trim off the old flowers with shears and give a little dressing of compost to encourage more of the charming little flowers the following January. There’s also a pretty pink version available ‘Springwood Pink.’

    3. Honeysuckle

    Winter honeysuckleThe winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima and L. x purpusii) fill the air with wonderful scent. I made a mistake when I planted mine right at the end of the garden a couple of years ago… it really needs to be nearer the door to be fully appreciated. However, they make good cut plants and I bring stems into the house.


    4. Helleborus foetidusWinter Hellebore

    Such an easy plant to grow,  tough as old boots but much prettier. I grow mine in a slightly raised bed so I can see the beauty of the nodding flower heads. If you have a shady spot in your garden and want some winter interest, this is a perfect plant choice for you.

    5. Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’

    winter flowers

    The bright yellow flowers of the witch hazel makes an eye-catching focal point in the winter garden and is another highly scented plant. Although slow growing it has a very attractive, almost vase-shaped outline, which given time, should spread to about 4m. The perfect situation for a Hamamelis is a woodland setting as it does prefer some shade in summer and shelter in winter. It prefers a slightly acidic soil but will cope with some alkaline. I feed mine in summer months with an acidic plant feed to keep it really happy. Keep pruning to a bare minimum, although you might not be able to resist taking a few stems into the house for the wonderfully ‘peppery’ fragrance. Another good variety of Hamamelis is ‘Jelena’ which has more orange flowers, equally deliciously scented.

    6. Forsythia x intermedia

    Winter colour

    This is a plant that has a bit of a reputation for being untidy. However, cared for properly and carefully placed, Forsythia can add a vibrant burst of yellow to a garden in spring time – just the thing to get the creative juices flowing after a long winter! To look at its best, Forsythia should be pruned just after flowering in early summer. With everything going on in the garden at this important time, it is easy to see why poor old Forsythia gets neglected and then pruned far too late in the season. It flowers in spring from the previous year’s growth – pruning in autumn removes all of the buds so it cannot flower!

    7. Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’

    clematis for winter flowers

    This vigorous evergreen climber is a really good ‘doer’ in a garden. An excellent plant for disguising an ugly fence or wall, it’s also obliging enough to flower at a time of year when there’s not much else to see in the garden. Being slightly tender, it will require a sheltered spot, ideally with a bit of dappled shade. As with all Clematis, it likes to have at least its roots in the shade. Straight after flowering remove dead or damaged wood and shorten straggly growth. A large Mahonia would make a great host partner for this lovely plant.


    8.Viburnum Tinus 

    In recent years this moderately vigorous, evergreen shrub has become unfashionable but that’s probably only because it’s such a useful plant. A good choice if you want a loose informal hedge which flowers over a long period of time. The pink buds of  Virburnum tinus open to become clusters of white flowers which set against the shrub’s evergreen foliage, insinuate joyful glow into the darkest time of year. The dark, evergreen leaves look attractive all year round, although it is susceptible to the Viburnum Beetle, making unsightly holes in the leaves. Treatments are available if this becomes a problem and prune after flowering, if necessary.


    9. Cornus mas   

    Image by <a href="">Ilona Ilyés</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>

    Also known as the Cornelian Cherry, is a deciduous shrub whose leaves turn a beautiful shade of red/purple in the autumn. It’s primarily grown for its small but very profuse clusters of yellow flowers in late winter on bare branches. Not a very large shrub, growing to about 3 m, keep pruning to a minimum and it’s a useful plant because it will grow on most soil types and is shade tolerant, although to enjoy the full spectacle of the flowers, a sunny position is best.

    10. Daphne mezereumFragrant winter flowers

    I’ve left my favourite till last! Avoid my mistake, and place this gorgeous, highly scented plant somewhere that you will walk past frequently! ❤️

    For more ideas on what to do in the garden every month visit our garden inspiration page. 😀

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