Although Winter is not really the season in which we expect to see an abundance of flowers, there are some shrubs that really come into their own. Scent is often the dominating feature and they make an excellent contribution to the front garden where they can be enjoyed at a time when most of the garden is appreciated from the comfort of a warm house! Here is a selection to wet your appetite
Cornus alba Sibirica – This deciduous shrub has oval, dark green leaves and produces small, creamy-white flowers in May and June. But it’s really grown for the bright, coral-red stems that are revealed when the leaves fall. This lovely dogwood looks stunning planted in groups, beside water, or in a winter border. Best in full sun, it works particularly well with orange or purple-stemmed varieties of dogwood.
Clematis cirrhosa Wisley Cream- Small, creamy, bell-shaped winter flowers often tinged-green and mid-green leaves retained throughout the year. This winter-flowering clematis is perfect for training over a pergola, doorway or arch, in a sunny, sheltered site. Although drought-tolerant it may not survive severe winters.
Coronilla valentina – This pretty evergreen shrub has blue-green foliage and masses of bright yellow, scented pea-shaped flowers. The variety C.g.Citrina has pale citrus yellow flowers and C.g.Variegata has creamy white margins to the leaves. Grow in a sunny spot, the base of a wall would be ideal, in light, well drained, fairly fertile soil sheltered from cold winds.
Stachyurus praecox – This is a rare and unusual plant, which is seldom seen here in the UK. In late winter and early spring, pendant racemes of small, cup-shaped flowers seem to drip from the bare, arching branches, creating a beautiful show. A native of thickets and woodland throughout the Himalayas and Eastern Asia, it is ideal for adding interest to a shrub border during the coldest part of the year. Alternatively the branches can be tied onto wires or trellis and trained to form a wall shrub.
Helleborus Harvington Double Lime Green – A gorgeous, new variety with pendent or outward-facing, saucer-shaped flowers that have lime green-coloured petals. These apear from February to April above the leathery, deep green leaves. This lenten rose creates a stunning ground cover for areas of dappled shade under deciduous trees and shrubs. Like all hellebores, they prefer a heavy, neutral to alkaline soil.
Coryllus avellana Contorta (Cork Screw Hazel) – In February and March, the bizarrely contorted stems of this small hazel are draped with golden-yellow catkins. The leaves, which are mid-green and twisted, appear later. This corkscrew hazel is ideal for the middle of a sunny border, where its winter outline can be fully appreciated, or planted in large containers. The twisted stems, much-valued by flower-arrangers, also provide a curious and unusual focal point for an oriental-style garden.
Clematis cirrhosa Freckles – Scented, bell-like, cream winter flowers heavily speckled inside with reddish-brown ‘freckles’ and glossy, dark-green leaves. This evergreen clematis is ideal for training over a sunny pergola or arch. This is the best way to appreciate the distinctive freckle-like markings, which are less visible when the plant is grown against a wall.
Camellia x williamsii – An exceptionally long-flowering camellia that produces large, semi-double, soft pink, saucer-shaped flowers from February to May among glossy, bright green leaves. In partial shade the flowers of this popular, evergreen shrub are longer-lasting and less likely to fade. Compact and upright in shape, it’s perfect for growing in a large patio container or for creating an informal, flowering screen.
Cyclamen hederifolium – With their pretty, marbled, heart-shaped leaves and upright, fragrant pink or white flowers, these cyclamen have a long season of interest before disappearing below ground over the summer. The flowers of this autumn-flowering cyclamen often appear well before the leaves, which form a pretty carpet after the flowers have finished. Although they are usually planted in shade, these cyclamen originate from the Mediterranean, so are equally happy in sun. Plant them en masse in a woodland setting with ferns and other shade-tolerant plants or around the base of deciduous trees.
Clematis cirrhosa Balearica – Fragrant, creamy-white winter flowers speckled inside with reddish-maroon ‘freckles’ and bronze-tinted evergreen leaves. Probably the best way to appreciate the distinctive freckle-like markings and delicate scent of this winter-flowering clematis is to train it over a sunny pergola, doorway or arch. Frost hardy, it may not survive severe winters.
Prunus sub. Autumnalis – Also known as ‘Jugatsu-zakura’, the autumn or winter-flowering cherry is a highlight in many winter gardens, when the bare branches sport flushes of semi-double blooms after every frost or whenever there is a mild spell. Pink while in bud, the blooms open clear white, with frilled petals and a sweet fragrance of almonds, making them popular for cutting in sprays during winter. Early flowers are without stalks but, as spring approaches, the display becomes more colourful and the blooms develop on long stalks. The leaves assume rich tints in autumn, and fall just before the first flowers open. The Royal Horticultural Society have given it their Award of Garden Merit
Skimmia japonnica Rubella – A compact male shrub with red-margined, deep green leaves. Dark red flower buds are produced in autumn and these last all through the winter until the flowers open in spring. A great shrub for growing in a pot or for filling in gaps in the garden border.
Contact us to order your February plants for your garden today. We have numerous growers who we order from on a weekly basis. Free advice and ideas to help you get the most from your late winter garden. See our Garden Services menu for other ways we can help you with your garden this year. Happy Gardening ……