It’s easier than you think to transform your garden into your very own winter wonderland. Whether it’s the ringing of sleigh bells in the distance. The smell of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, or the crunch of the frosty ground beneath your feet. Winter is a month for all the senses and it doesn’t have to be limited to the warmth of indoors. Why not explore what your garden has to offer in the magical winter months?!
Winter plants have lots of different characteristics; many are scented, lots have spectacular flowers with intricately designed petals. Others have the most wonderfully vibrant stems, foliage and berries that light up the dullest of corners. These special plants bring winter to life in the garden, meaning you cancreate display full of colour all year long.
Perhaps one of the most unexpected qualities of winter plants is their tendency to carry an intoxicatingly sweet aroma. Winter plants work much harder to entice pollinators out of the warmth and lure them out into the cold to have any hope of reproducing. One of the most successful ways to tempt the birds and the bees is by producing a powerful sugary-sweet scent. We also get to benefit from this hard work too. Shrubs such as Viburnum ‘Charles Lamont’ or White Forsythia have sweet-smelling flowers that smother bare branches in winter. Just like candyfloss on a stick, they’re almost good enough to eat.
Talking of sweets, the stunning Sarcococca confusa, or ‘Sweet Box, for short, produces glorious white firework-like threads of slowers that sparkle in the frost like glittery icicles, each miniature bloom exuding the most sensational vanilla fragrance.
The flowers of winter shrubs are that much more special. This is because they’re borne on bare stems, making them the ultimate focal point. From bold and bright Chinese Witch Hazel ribbon-like petals to pretty in pink Daphne Mezereum or mellow lemon Chimonanthus, it doesn’t matter how big and bright they are because they become the complete centre of attention. Once again, it’s all for those pollinators – and we just get to take advantage of their beauty.
Other winter flowering plants, like Hellebore ‘Christmas Carol’ or Cyclamen hederifolium bring colour to areas and that become blackened in the shadow of winter colours. Shade-tolerant perennials and hardy winter bedding like Pansy ‘Matrix’ are great for pots and empty beds. The dazzling array of colours make fabulous displays and best of all they’ll flower from December, right through to summer.
At this time of year, it’s not just flowers that can cause a stir. A number of winter favourites are exactly that because of their extraordinary stems and foliage. The bare stems of Callicarpa Beauty Berry become absolutely smothered in the most unusual metallic purple berries. They transform the shrub into a violet haze from autumn through winter.
Loropetalum ‘EverRed’ bears the richest deep chocolate-purple leaves that sit as a backdrop to its neon pink flowers. The deep purple leaves bring something really different to winter gardens. Far from the usual evergreens, they make a wonderful contrast in beds and borders.
Then there’s the rich red foliage of the Photinia ‘Red Robin’ or, an even more colourful twist on the classic, the Photinia ‘Pink Marble’. With its gloriously contrasting pink and green foliage ‘Pink Marble’ makes the perfect rainbow coloured hedge all year-round. Just imagine the intense reds, pinks, greens and purples shining through from beneath a layer of glistening frost or snow. What could be more magical?!