Highly-scented shrubs, glossy evergreen leaves and striking flowers – whether the bright yellow spikes of Mahonias or snow white blossom of the Christmas rose – really make a garden come alive in winter.
But how do you know which plants to choose? Well the clue is often in the name: Sarcococca “Winter Gem”, Camellia x vernalis “Yuletide” – even Clematis cirrhosa “Jingle Bells” – are just some of the cultivars of our most popular winter-flowering plants.
Early-flowering Camellia x vernalis “Yuletide” gets its name because in sheltered areas it usually flowers on Christmas Day – producing seasonally-suited rich red flowers with golden stamens that add an extra glow.
The Camellia sasanqua “Winter’s Snowman” flowers even earlier – from autumn right into winter – reflecting the winter sun on its glossy evergreen leaves and frilly semi-double white flowers.
Then there is the Camellia “Sparkling Burgundy”, with peony-like, wine-coloured flowers that appear from December to January.
Plant one or two of these compact Camellia bushes and not only will you get winter colour but the evergreen leaves will also add to your garden’s structure all year-round.
It is always important to have height in gardens, and Mahonia x media “Winter Sun” ticks all the right boxes for the winter garden.
Not only is it evergreen, providing year-round colour, its spiny leaves add architectural shapes to deep borders and its sunshine-yellow spikes of flowers are sweetly scented, followed by blue-black berries that will attract birds.
And don’t overlook the simple Christmas Rose, or Helleborus niger. Despite its name this is more of a January and February-flowering plant, but once it gets going it can flower for a couple of months.
Its white flowers, often tinged green, appear on long stems and keeps the Christmas cheer coming until early spring.
So this new year, why not make it your resolution to plant shrubs and perennials that will create a sparkling winter wonderland for years to come.