Gardening Magazine

Best Plants and Flowers for UK Winter Garden Colour

By Matt From Sgc @MattSGC

Don't let the drab skies of winter dominate your attention; fill your garden with interest using scent, colour, and shape that will last in combination all winter long. Try these options to bring you gardening joy in the coldest months of the year.

Winter aconites

Best Plants and Flowers for UK Winter Garden Colour

If you want to liven up the areas left bare by fallen leaves, these will grow beneath larger deciduous plants and speckle the ground with little yellow flowers.

Best Plants and Flowers for UK Winter Garden Colour

Another plant that thrives under trees (or in pots if you prefer), cyclamen erupt in pink, red and white flowers any time from late autumn to spring.

Best Plants and Flowers for UK Winter Garden Colour

Heather can be grown in the ground, but also looks great in pots - which also allows you to rearrange them when the mood strikes. They are low-growing, and bring texture and interest to bleak areas - with the bonus of pink, purple, or white flowers when in bloom.

Japanese quince

Best Plants and Flowers for UK Winter Garden Colour

This woody shrub, also called chaenomeles, demands attention with its thorny branches and cup-shaped flowers. It blooms in winter and early spring.

Best Plants and Flowers for UK Winter Garden Colour

A common favourite, evergreen varieties of viburnum bring a wide range of characteristics to the winter garden palette. We recommend the Viburnum x bodnantense, or 'Dawn' viburnum, as the pink flowers produce a strong scent as well as lovely colour.

Helleborus

Best Plants and Flowers for UK Winter Garden Colour

Often called 'the Christmas Rose,' these often bloom in mid-winter, with green, dark red, or white flowers.

Best Plants and Flowers for UK Winter Garden Colour

Popular for a reason, pansies are an inexpensive way to add colour to the winter garden. They thrive in window boxes and other pots.

Winter-flowering cherry

If the idea of a small tree interests you, the ornamental cherry tree Prunus subhirtella autumnalis blooms with pale pink flowers throughout the winter season.

A pleasant New Year gift, snowdrops are often the first flowers to bloom after the big day. There is a wide range available, and looks vary from woodland greens to those with elegant, swaying flowers.

Witch hazel

Bearing red, yellow, or even copper-coloured flowers, witch hazel varieties can draw the eye in an otherwise bleak landscape.

Winter jasmine

Add a touch of scent to an archway or walk-through using winter jasmine. Not a true climber, it will nonetheless 'scramble' through any frame you set up for it with minimal training needed. It will erupt in yellow, star-shaped leaves.

Commonly known as barberry, these show off spires of sunny-yellow flowers against a backdrop of dark green leaves.

Not all winter colour is found in flowers, or even leaves. Dogwood (cornus) is bare in the winter, but the stems are full of colour and texture.

Blooming in late winter or early spring, some varieties offer flowers as early as January. Some varieties, such as the aptly named 'February Gold,' flower a bit later, so a combination of varieties can keep interest going through these harshest of winter months.

A traditional sign of winter's demise, the blooming cup-like crocus flowers bring warmth to the heart as they signal the coming warmth of spring. Whether sown randomly over the lawn, or more formally in pots or borders, they look great.

Chionodoxa

Few flowers can offer so lovely a surprise as the chionodoxa, or 'Glory of the Snow,' as its star-shaped blue or pink flowers poke up through the snow.

If fragrance is as important as appearance, this plant will please you as it blooms in winter and early spring.

Clematis cirrhosa

This plant garners interest both with flowers and foliage. Creamy, bell-shaped flower centres set off against speckled petals and greenery will please the eye.

Sarcococca

Commonly known as 'Sweet box,' its tiny cream-coloured flowers emit a powerful fragrance that can fill the garden. A fertilised plant will also produce shiny black berries.

Iris unguicularis

Another lovely plant for fragrance, the violet and yellow flowers emit a sweet perfume.

Skimmia japonica

In addition to the evergreen colour, these produce panicles of flowers and berries through the winter months. They do not self-propagate, so you will need both a make and a female specimen to produce the berries.

Even more winter garden colour ideas

Despite the name, many evergreens aren't even green. Some varieties are blue, others yellow-gold. Ornamental cabbages can also liven up the colour palette of your outdoor spaces, as can berry-bearing shrubs like holly.

Further Reading:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4521754/ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/47932262_Measuring_cold_hardiness_in_woody_plants Best Plants and Flowers for UK Winter Garden Colour Best Plants and Flowers for UK Winter Garden Colour Best Plants and Flowers for UK Winter Garden Colour

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