It’s easy to think that winter is without flowers. It is certainly a quieter time on the floral front than spring, but there are many blooms worth celebrating.
Probably the most regal of all are Magnolias, which are among the first blossoms to bloom, with their stunning goblet flowers gracing the July garden. They come in white, pink, dark purple, lemon and even yellow flowers these days, and there are also shrub forms called star magnolias if you don’t have room for a tree. Closely related are the Michelias, which are like an evergreen form of magnolia, and tend to flower in spring. They are worth looking for too, and many make a great hedge.
Then there are the winter bulbs, like those first enchanting members of the Narcissi family, including paperwhites, jonquils and daffodils. Their fragrance in the cold never ceases to cheer. Also in winter are Snowflakes, which have dainty white bells, and Crocus.
For those that like colour, try growing some polyanthus. These come in all the colours in the rainbow. They’re worth planting on a windowsill or having in pots on a table bring a smile to any grey day. Violas and pansies have a similar effects, but work well planted in the garden or in hanging baskets, especially the cascading types which make a reasonable groundcover. The flowers on these are edible too, and look pretty in salads or as decorations on cakes.
Winter roses, or Helleborousare another worthwhile inclusion for the winter garden. Their flowers are wither white, pink, green or plum shades, or an unusual mix of these, and they come in doubles and single forms. They grow as a clumping perennial, and flower throughout winter and spring. If you’re wanting them as a cut flower, wait until the bloom ‘ripens’, which is when the stamens drop off, as that whey they will last well in a vase.
Lesser grown, but divine, are the heavenly scented winter flowering shrubs like Daphne, Osmanthus, Witch hazel and Wintersweet. And, of course, there the Queen of winter flowers, Camellia japonicas.
By: Meredith Kirton