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Adding Colour In January

January 12, 2012

snowdrrops1.jpgEven in this cold month of January in the gloomy winter season there are plants that can liven up more or less any garden and even make it a flowery, scented and colourful winter wonderland.

One of the first perennial bulbs to pop up around this time of year is the Galanthus plicatus, otherwise known as the Snowdrop. A carpet of Snowdrops with their dainty nodding delicately scented white flowers look so lovely grown beneath trees and shrubs or naturalised in turf.

Another plant worth having in our gardens around this time of the year is the Lonicera, or the shrubby Honeysuckle, with its wonderfully scented flowers. This shrub grows to a height of six feet with clusters of small white flowers and likes a sheltered spot in sun or dappled shade.

The Sarcococca hookeriana, the common name being Christmas Box or Sweet Box, is a useful small shrub for a small garden as it only grows up to two feet in height. This is an evergreen shrub with lovely dark green glossy leaves and clusters of very small honey-scented pink-tinted white flowers and prefers growing in a shady site.

If I had to choose, then I would say that my favourite winter flowering shrub has to be the Chimonanthus praecox, Wintersweet, because of its glorious powerful scent. It also has interesting small waxy-looking yellow flowers and will grow to a height of twelve feet.

Another winter stunner is the Hamamelis, Witch Hazel, which has super, fragrant, spidery, yellow flowers on bare branches and it truly is a good choice for providing winter interest in a garden.  It can be either grown in a shrub, border or as a specimen plant.snowdrops2.jpg

An attractive ground cover for winter colour is the Eranthis hyemalis, the Winter Aconite, which is a vigorous spreading perennial. With its attractive round rosettes of leaves with a bright yellow cup shaped flowers in the centre, it will really brighten up any garden that looks a little sorry for itself around this time of the year. Grow this perennial in full sun but under the canopy of a deciduous tree or shrub, so that the soil isn’t too dry during the summer months.

A winter flowering perennial that I adore and think is a “must” for lovely winter flowering interest is the Helleborus niger, which is also known as Christmas Rose. This beauty has white saucer shaped flowers that are sometimes tinged with pink and it flowers from winter to early spring.

The Helleborus orientalis, better known as the Lenten Rose, comes in a variety of interesting dusky colours and flowers from mid-winter through to spring. After the Helleborus have finished flowering, they continue to provide evergreen interest for the rest of the year with their architectural leaf form.  Helleborus prefer a dapple shaded site where the soil doesn’t dry out too much.

So those shady spots in the garden can really come to life with some winter flowering plants to provide colour interest in the garden for winter.

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