We’re heading towards the last ‘official’ weeks of winter, phew!
With spring not far off in the garden, it’s only natural to be a bit impatient for that rush of colour that the warmer weather brings. Our garden has been looking decidedly drab all winter. For the last couple of years I’ve promised myself that I will make some changes to our planting, to stop this lack of interest continuing into another year. Guess what? It hasn’t happened. But having put up with looking out of the window and thinking ‘meh’ for long enough, I’m determined to make some changes this year.
Which plants are good for winter interest?
I’ve been looking at ways to add interest and colour to my late winter garden, and have come up with my winter plants wish list. If you’re keen to fill a planting gap in your garden over the winter months, here are some ideas to get you started.
Great winter flowering plants and shrubs
I already have some *hellebores in my garden, but in my opinion there’s always room for one more! To me they are the shining stars of the late winter garden. Their flowers are delicate and tactile, and their foliage is lovely too. I’m going to sneak a couple of new plants in amongst my hostas, which will come to life after the hellebores have had their moment of glory.
Clematis are a fantastic choice for livening up a dull wall or fence, and there are winter-flowering varieties that will do their best to give you something beautiful to look at on vertical structures. My favourites are *Clematis urophylla ‘winter beauty’, which is lush and evergreen with white bell-shaped blooms, and *Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’ (pictured), which will really add a shot of colour to your late winter garden. It’s a good idea to grow them against a house wall to give them some shelter; this also allows you to see their lovely blooms from inside more easily.
Daphne Odora ‘Aureomarginata’
This has been on my winter plants wish list for a few years now. *Daphne Odora ‘Aureomarginata’ is a beautiful evergreen shrub which produces highly scented pale pink blooms in the depths of winter. It makes a great addition to a sunny or partly-shaded border, but you can also grow it in a large container near the house if you want to get the full benefit of the fragrance.
*Heucheras flower in the summer, but we’re not interested in the flowers here. At this time of year, it’s all about the foliage. You can buy heuchera in lots of different colours, try mixing up a few varieties to really light up borders or containers.
One of my strongest childhood memories is of searching the woodland near my grandma’s house for the first primrose of the year. Primroses really do signify the start of spring, and can give your borders and containers a big hit of colour on drab winter days.
Pansies & Violas
Pansies and their smaller cousins violas really earn their space. They are so long-flowering, and you can choose from pretty much any colour you like. Use them as a short-term ‘filler’ for any gaps in your borders, or in containers and hanging baskets for an instant show of winter colour. Remember to dead-head them regularly to keep them blooming.
The best plants for winter pots
A container plant display is a great way to give your garden an instant lift in winter. It’s also ideal if you don’t want to tackle the whole garden, as you can position your pots where you can see them from indoors. Outside your front door is also a great spot for a winter container.
Garden centres, DIY stores and supermarkets usually have a good range of winter plants on offer. Here are some suggestions for low-cost plants that work well in winter containers.
- Evergreen grasses such as Carex and Phormium
You can also add bulbs to your containers before you plant them up. This is an easy way to give the display a boost in spring.
More winter plant inspiration
For more winter gardening ideas, you might to take a look at these posts:
Crocus have some lovely ideas for winter pots in this video:
Finally, Alys Fowler has some more winter plant suggestions in her Guardian column here.
Have you got any of these plants in your garden? What are your favourite winter plants for adding colour and interest to the garden?