The more Winter Flowering Plants in the garden the better. I know only too well, working as a Landscape Gardener in Dublin in the Winter, how dreary the garden can be, and how adding a selection of Winter flowering plants can really improve the demeanour of a Garden.
It is quite surprising when you investigate, how many plants there are, that will perform well in the Winter months. Admittedly it is minuscule compared to the Summer months
So with Winter officially here, it is a good time to investigate some options, while Mother Nature has some downtime. There are thankfully soldiers of the garden that will flower with great aplomb which also means there is some pollen around for needy garden insects
There are the usual suspects like pansies and violas that are best kept in pots and away from the cold strong rain, that batter them, particularly the pansies. I say select Violas every time for plant containers and pots and accompany them with trailing Ivy’s and Cyclamens.
Cyclamen naturally thrives in shady, rocky woodland place and if bought in bulb form is happiest in those conditions. The ones currently sold in flower are best planted in containers. When planting flowering Cyclamens from pots make sure that the tops of the corms (Bulbs) are level with the surrounding soil and that the top of the corms is slightly exposed.
Heathers make a superb ground cover, are easy to grow and are as far as I am concerned an essential ingredient for every garden. There are many varieties that grow to a very agreeable 60cm and come into there own in the Winter. Heathers are ideal for borders and this year ‘Twin Girls’ is being heavily promoted for the new season.
The growers have bred it as a flowering variety and a foliage variety together for a unique colour contrast. They are called Bud – Bloomers because as they bud up , the flowers do not open fully, resulting in a longer colourful show
The combination of pink and white flowers of Twin Girls is catching the publics imagination and is proving very popular and retails for a descent €6.95ish each.
There are few Winter plants that can rival Hellebores also known as Christmas Rose or Lenten Rose. It is much coveted by those who know them but somewhat ignored I feel by non plant enthusiasts they thrive when grown in a moist well-drained soil with good drainage. The Colour range is impressive for an off season plant White, Black-Purple, Red-Purple, Pink, yellow and even a luminous Green. Many of the varieties are complimented by patterns and colorful speckles in the centre and edges of the flowers. The ideal location for Hellebores is to the front of shrubs, where it happily tucks in to protect itself them from worst of the Winter weather, the maximum height is about 75cm. Seeking out and purchasing Hellebores is a joyous experience that will light up the post Christmas garden.
Then there is Skimmia, they seem exotic when you examine there origins, hailing from far flung places like the Himalayas and the Far East. Skimmia’s can manage our climate just fine and perform admirably in our Winter. They need long term to be in the shade so if planted in a sunny location in the winter to show them off, ensure to move them to a shady spot, by Spring.
They have male and female flowers on different plants so both must be planted to ensure berries. ‘Rubella’ is the male variety with very attractive red edged dark green leaves. The flowers which appear in autumn and through winter are a lovely sight with the added bonus of fragrant flowers in spring.
One note of caution for Skimmia is the common yellowing sickly look of the leaves. This is an indication that the soil is too limey and or sunny. A regular top dressing of ericaceous compost will solve the problem; this is the same compost, used for correcting soil content for Camellias and Rhododendrons.
Finally there are the Chrysanthemums they bring me real joy in bloom, as I grew up on a plant nursery, which grew acres of them. The Chrysanthemum Garden Mums are late-blooming up until Christmas. If the blooms are cut for a flower display, when they are close to fully flowering, they will last in a vase for weeks. They are available in wide variety of Primary Colors .Plant in a sheltered area or in a pot near a sunny door, will make big impression, on the colder days of winter.
Other Winter Flowering Plants-
Winter Flowering Jasmine is a Great Wall Climber,Viburnun Bodnantese Dawn blooms in a strong Pink, Chaenomeles/Quince has a striking orange fruit in the winter months and Mahonia has like a lot of Winter Flowering Shrubs a strong toned Yellow flower