Snow and hard frosts are still the order of the day in wintery February and we are all desperate to see an end to the cold weather and signs of spring. If you take a look in your garden there are clear signs of new life; trees and shrubs budding and bulbs forging their way through the rock solid earth. Thankfully there are also plenty of specimens putting on a show in the garden this week, despite the snow and cold weather;
These Crocii, just popping their lance shaped heads through the ground, are great naturalised in a lawn and a classic sign that spring is on the way!
Hellebores or Christmas Roses come in an array of flowering colours, from pure white, through speckled pinks and mauves to almost black. These plants are ideal for a shady border and one of my winter favourites. For a fantastic selection of Hellebores you must pay a visit to Ashwood Nurseries
Helleborus orientalis ‘Early Purple Group’
Aurum italicum has all-year interest. It has white hooded flowers in early summer and berries in autumn. The variegated arrow shaped leaves, appearing in winter make great ground-cover .
Another good ground cover plant for trailing over a wall is Vinca difformis. This variety with its pure white flowers can be used to brighten up a shady area.
Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill'
This evergreen upright shrub smells delish! So plant it somewhere where you have to regularly walk past it to take in its heady aromas.
A versatile species that can be grown for its foliage, flowers or brightly coloured stems.
Cornus alba ’Sibirica’ is grown for its striking red stems, (achieved by cutting back in spring to encourage new growth), is a great addition to a large shrub border and looks wonderful when caught by the light of the low rays of the sun. Plant with an evergreen backdrop of dark greens and golds and mix in a light green plant such as a Hellebore to add contrast .
Other popular varieties grown for their stems include Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’, Cornus sericia ‘Flaviramea’ (golden barked) and a real show stopper Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ (fiery red!).
Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea'
Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’
Variegated Holly, Bay, Euonymus, Cryptomeria, Photinia and Viburnum tynus make lovely clipped standards which give form to a snowy garden.
Mahonia x Media ‘Charity’
Often associated with municipal planting this plant should not be overlooked in the domestic garden. It has scented lemon yellow flowers in dense spikes that appear above dark green leaves. It is a very useful evergreen addition to a winter border . The architectural Mahonia x Media ’Charity’ is a lovely variety, its statuesque form can make a wonderful feature plant.
Hammamelis, commonly known as Witch Hazel, is an absolute treasure in a winter garden this medium sized shrub has spidery flowers, ranging from shades of the deepest crimson reds, through oranges and sulphur yellows depending on the variety. It should be planted where you can see it from the house as it flowers at the coldest time of the year and you may not wish to go out to search for it!
Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena'
Not always thought of as a winter plant, this early flowering species Rhododendron praecox bares rosy lilac flowers which will liven up a small garden during February. Another variety that flowers over Winter is R. ‘Christmas Cheer’
And last but not least…
A collection of Winter flowers would not be complete without the mention of the ubiquitous snowdrop. This delicate little white flower is as robust and hardy as they come. It will melt your heart and always cheer you up on the coldest of days. If you want to try a different variety, Galanthus elwesii, is a larger variety or a similar plant that follows the flowering period of Snowdrops choose Leucojum vernum.
For places to see snowdrops now click here
Its almost worth planting a selection of these worthy plants near your house, to give you hope in this darkest and longest of months!
Author Melanie Smith Gardenplan Design