It seems like only yesterday that summer flowers were in bloom and the sun was beating down as I frantically weeded and watered my pots!
But winter brings its own beauty, and there’s so much to enjoy in the garden still – not least a host of flowering plants to rival any other season. After the razzle dazzle of Christmas, why not create natural floral decorations to brighten up your home this month?
In winter, bright blooms often come with a highly fragrant sweet scent – this is so they can effectively draw in insects to them at an otherwise sparse time. This is certainly the case with Sarcococca confusa, or sweet box with its lovely white ragged flowers, and Lonicera fragrantissima, a sweet honeysuckle, both shrubs you can plant now. Pop them near a doorway so you can take in the delicious fragrance as often as possible.
The perfect addition to the winter garden is mahonia. It’s a vibrant, sunshine-yellow shrub with an unusual scent; an evergreen with plumes of yellow flowers that smell like lily-of-the-valley in winter, with purple berries to follow – a real, top-value plant.
Elsewhere you might want to add a touch of spice to the garden with Hamamelis mollis, or witch hazel, which has spiders of lemon peel-like flowers clustered down each stem. It’s the most scented of the witch hazels, with a sweet, zesty, yet spicy aroma.
Climbing Clematis cirrhosa is a wonderful source of nectar for winter bees, and the variety ‘Freckles’ is a garden classic, with purple speckled blooms and a delicate scent.
Containerised plants can be planted out now, ideally twining around a garden gate, up a pergola or over an arch. As for low-growers, you can’t get better than delicate-looking but robust winter iris. You can plant them now as ready-grown pots in garden centres – as they’re most commonly available.
Blue-purple 10-20cm tall Iris unguicularis can flower for six months in a sunny spot up until spring, accompanying deep purple Iris reticulata in late winter, bright colours that are most welcome this season.
Along with berried branches such as skimmia, and more demure, lightly scented gems such as hellebores, pick some of these blooms for wonderful, natural indoor decorations – your visitors will love it.
How to care for your pond
Melt iceFish and pond plants might suffocate if under surface ice, so melt it safely by standing a hot pan on the ice. Floating a ball on the water can delay freezing.
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