Is your garden dull in winter? Well, hopefully I can help!
In this blog post I will talk about my 5 top plant recommendations for brightening up a dull winter garden with a pop of colour.
Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ (Commonly known as Dogwood)
There is many species of Cornus that provide intense winter colour but Cornus ‘Sibirica’ is always my top choice, looking at its bright red stems, it’s easy to see why!
Many choose Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ for specifically winter interest but it’s a valuable plant for all year round, producing small white flowers adored by bees above, ovate dark green leaves that change colour through the seasons. It has received an AGM (Award of Garden Merit) for its outstanding excellence and takes its rightful place at the back of the border, providing a beautiful backdrop.
* Top Tip: Old woody Cornus becomes misshapen and loses its colour intensity; to get the best from your plant, prune back long ‘whips’ hard, annually in spring. This will force new growth, which will be vibrant in colour.
Helleborus niger (Commonly known as Winter rose)
A simple yet elegant semi-evergreen, perennial plant, perfect for brightening up a shaded area in winter, used as under planting or on mass in a woodland style garden, contrasting with Eranthis (Winter Aconite).
If you have pink hellebore species in the garden try under planting with snowdrops for a lovely contrast.
*Top Tip: When flowers begin to emerge from the base, prune back larger leaves to reveal the buds and get a better show.
Lonicera fragrantissima (Winter Honeysuckle)
Not only is this a mighty contender in the list of best winter plants due to it’s long flowering period (December to March) but it’s also highly fragrant, so make sure to position it somewhere you can walk past and enjoy it!
Lonicera fragrantissima is a bushy shrub, that loses its leaves during winter (deciduous). In late winter the almost bare shrub produces these creamy-white double lobed flowers, which can be occasionally followed by dull red berries.
*Top Tip: Prune back after flowering to promote new growth. For abundant flowers year after year, make sure to apply a generous amount of fertiliser (manure) annually.
Mahonia x media (Oregon Grape Hybrid)
A versatile shrub for all aspects, Mahonia will happily thrive in sun, part shade and full shade, making it an unfussy choice for all gardens and a valuable late food source for bees.
Mahonia x media is a large, upright, evergreen shrub, producing sprays of bright yellow flowers from the ends of the branches, in which are slightly scented and often followed by oval black berries.
*Top tip: Due to its spiky nature, it’s best to plant at a back of a border or somewhere that you will not have to reach under or brush past.
Chaenomeles x superba ‘Pink Lady’ (Japanese Quince ‘Pink Lady’)
The Japanese quince has to be my personal favourite for late winter flowering and with many species and colours available; you really are stuck for choice!
‘Pink Lady’ is a smaller and spreading variety of quince, it has spiny branches and dark glossy leaves that drop completely in winter. From the bare, spiny branches emerge dark pink buds that become lighter as they open to cup-shaped flowers, followed in summer by small fruit that can be used in jellies and jams!
*Top Tip: Quinces can be trained against a shady wall for a beautiful show; they flower for a long period of time and will continue to bloom as there spring leaves emerge.
Winter flowering plants are only one way of providing interest in the dull months, other examples include choosing evergreen plants that hold their leaves all year round, often changing leaf colour through the seasons or producing winter berries that provide a much needed feast for the birds.
Both evergreen and deciduous grasses provide structure with their seed heads that look magical when the frost catches them; make sure to choose species that keep their shape and don’t collapse!
Other herbaceous perennials also produce fantastic seed heads that can be left right through winter for added interest, a few examples include: Sedum varieties, Echinacea and verbena, to name just a few!