Wereham Sign Gary Trouton

Passionate about Plants

October 2008

Advice from Paul on how to keep colour in your garden over the winter months

Shrubs for Winter colour

Gardens in winter can be a dull and uninteresting place without the addition of winter flowering plants. Winter colour in the garden can be achieved in many ways, for instance brightly coloured evergreen plants or elegant structural grasses which sparkle in the winter sun following a frost.

There are a number of excellent winter flowering shrubs good enough to grace any garden, large or small. The following is a list of my most favourite winter flowering shrubs:

Prunus x subhirtella 'Autumnalis'

My favourite tree for winter is the winter flowering cherry. Its delicate white or pink flowers (as there is a pink form) die when frosted, but then as if by magic new flowers appear the next sunny day. It can be grown as a large multi stemmed shrub a cheery sight in the middle of winter.

Lonicera fragrantissima

This shrubby Honeysuckle is a true winter beauty. The lovely small white flowers grace the bush when the leaves have fallen. The flowers are scented and the delicate perfume is at its best on a bright still day when any gentle breeze can waft the scent quite a distance. It flowers in the winter or early spring depending on the winter weather.

Viburnum farreri

This large, upright deciduous shrub has lovely pink buds opening to reveal white small flowers with a rich delicate scent. Just like the winter flowering cherry it will flower again and again after each frost throughout the winter.

Sarcococca (the Christmas box)

There are several varieties of this small evergreen shrub of which the variety confusa is most readily available. It is a useful hardy shrub with a dense spreading habit, bearing an abundance of small extremely fragrant flowers. It always amazes me that so much scent can come from such small cream coloured flowers. This good ground cover plant enjoys a shady position.

Hamamelis mollis (witch hazel)

This is a challenging plant to grow as it prefers an acid soil, but with a little skill the gardener can be rewarded with an abundance spider like yellow flowers appearing on the normally leafless branches. The curious strap-shaped petals withstand the severest weather without injury and the hazel like foliage usually gives attractive autumn colour. Mollis is the Chinese witch hazel and is the most handsomest of all witch hazels. The large shrub bears many clusters of large sweetly fragrant golden yellow flowers from December to March. As its usually produced as a grafted plant, it will be more expensive than the run of the mill shrub, but well worth the money.

Viburnum tinus

This is one of the most popular evergreens, and quite rightly so as it is an excellent winter flowering shrub for all but the coldest areas. It can make an excellent informal hedge, tolerant of shade and succeeds well in coastal areas. It is a medium sized to large shrub of dense, bushy habit with luxurious masses of dark glossy green, oval leaves. The pink budded white flowers appear continuously from late autumn to early spring. It can be trimmed into many different shapes from cone to standard lollipop forms.

Erica carnea and darleyensis cultivars

The winter flowering heathers are an excellent way of bringing colour into the winter garden. The flower colour ranges through pink to dark red and with a clever use of cultivars you can have them flowering right the way through to spring. They tend to be brought as small cheap plants as several are needed to make a show. There relative cheapness reflects the fact that they are short lived shrubs (2-3 years) and without regular trimming in spring they can soon die out.

I hope that the above gives you the urge to look further into the use of plants for winter colour as there are many more than the above list. In my view there is no reason why your garden shouldn't be as beautiful in the winter as summer. The careful positioning of scented winter flowering shrubs can add a whole new dimension to your garden. We at Quaymount are only too happy to advise on your plant selection to help you get the best from your garden. We are open seven days a week and look forward to seeing you.

Happy Gardening

Quaymount Nurseries


01366 500691.

Paul Markwell

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