Gardening in the depths of winter isn’t much fun sometimes and with that in mind we suggest concentrating on the most important parts of your garden. That is the spots you see the most at this time of year. Adding interest with plants for January and February isn’t as difficult as you may think. Although the range is smaller now the impact is greater if used well.
The spots that you see the most will tend to be on your dash from car to front door and the views through your windows where you are stationary the longest. This might be your favorite armchair but just as likely the window behind your kitchen sink.
Potted Bulbs and Hardy Potted Flowers
Potted ready to plant spring flower bulbs are grown by nursery growers ready for planting straight away in patio pots or the ground weather permitting. We advise not planting any hardy plants if your soil is frozen. Any buried lumps of frozen soil may leave an air pocket around the root ball once thawed and prevent good water contact with the roots. Wait until it warms a little, it always does in British winters.
Narcissus Tete a Tete are wonderful dwarf daffs. and are ideal for pots or the windowsill inside for a short period. Pot outside with other potted bulbs such as Crocus and Hyacinths. Don’t forget Snowdrops too planted under deciduous shrubs and trees.
Primulas and Primroses start to flower in milder days, and are also ideal for patio pots. They are very good value and often sold with an offer for multiple plants. If hard frost are forecast cover the flowers over night with newspaper to protect the flowers. If you don’t manage that, any scorched flowers will quickly be replaced by fresh buds and then flowers that are hiding below the leaves.
Hardy Shrubs and Perennials
The Christmas Box (Sarcocca) is an insignificant evergreen with the most amazing scent on a mild winters day. Plant on the way into your home and you will be stopped in your tracks every time you pass. You could grow it in a pot for your doorstep that you then remove to a ‘nursery’ area after flowering, replacing it with a seasonal pot for the early spring.
Hamamelis, the Witch Hazel is a classic winter flowering shrub known for it’s ribbon like yellow flowers and high scent. It is a large shrub and needs some space but always worth a place in larger gardens.
Variegated plants such as Holly and Eleagnus give bright splashes of yellow foliage to your garden and form a great back drop to other plants all year round. the bare stems of Dogwood (Cornus), glow like flames if planted in groups and are good plants for ‘down the garden’ to brighten the vista.
The finest flowering herbaceous plants for the midwinter are the Hellebores. Hellebores have received a lot of attention from breeding fanatics and we benefit from it for our gardens with great bold flowering varieties. From Germany the new Helleborus niger range, including Jonah and Joshua, have bright white flowers that fade to lime green, are great pots full of flower that don’t mind our weather. They are ideal for pots or borders. Helleborus orientalis, The Lenten Roses start flowering as the ‘niger’ forms finish and add more colours to the garden. They love shade too so there’s another bonus.
Concentrate on the places you see the most now and enjoy the impact of colour and form that’s on offer. You will be pleasantly surprised.
Local readers call in, and have a wander around the plant department and see even more surprises.