Winter Flowering Shrubs
Winter Flowering Shrubs
The winter sweet, Chimonanthus praecox, which grows to 9 ft., has yellow and red, spiky flowers, which unexpectedly unfold from round buds. The scent of these flowers is extremely strong and most attractive to come across suddenly on a cold winter’s day. The leaves follow the flowers. It is not easy to grow and may take two or three years to establish itself, and although hardy it appreciates the protection of a wall or other sheltered positions and a good well-drained soil; in severe winters it may be killed. Little pruning is required.
The heaths flower from January to April in the species Erica carnea, which also has the advantage that it will grow on limy soils, as well as acid ones. Good varieties are: Springwood, white; Springwood Pink; vivellii, deep red and rather low growing, with dark green leaves, browny-red in winter, later than the type; Ruby Glow, deep rose with brownish-green foliage, and Winter Beauty which starts really early in December and has bright pink flowers. Trim over in the spring after flowering to remove flowered shoots. Soil should be well drained and light. (The remainder of the ericas mostly flower in the summer and autumn.)
The only species is Garrya an shrub from California which has the merit of growing well in any , though in colder gardens it will grow better on a warm wall, and help to clothe it very attractively. It makes a plant about 12 ft. high, and during January and February, under favourable conditions, produces catkin-like pendulous flowers, silvery-green in colour, about 9-12 in. in length. The female, rarely seen, produces almost as effective long, pendulous clusters of black fruits. It will grow in any good well-drained soil and likes a sunny sheltered position. Pruning is not required for this shrub.
The Chinese and Japanese witch-hazels start to uncurl their spider-like yellow flowers in December and continue right through January even when there is snow on the ground. There may still be the occasional flowers left in spring when the leaves start to appear, and they have the added merit that in autumn the leaves turn pleasing shades of yellow, red and brown. Slow-growing to 15 ft., they require little pruning except to improve the shape, or to make them rather bushier, by cutting back the tips to encourage side shoots to sprout. Hamamelis mollis is the best sort; others with orange or paler yellow petals are not so easy to grow. All will thrive in good, slightly moist soils in open or partly-shaded places.
It is surprising that the heavily-scented jasmine or jessamine, Jasminum officinale, from Persia and Kashmir, should have a near relation which not only flowers in this country but does it during the coldest time of the year.opens its bright yellow, primrose-like flowers from mid-November onwards until the end of January or through February, even in snow. It succeeds and looks best against a wall, as it requires some support for its rather trailing habit, and grows in almost any soil to 15 ft. Prune after flowering to remove shoots that have flowered and tie the rest in place.
These shrubs are evergreen, with glossy, prickly leaves rather like holly, and sprays of lemon-yellow, round flowers growing from a central point. In the species Mahonia japonica, 5-7 ft., the flowers have a-of-the-valley perfume, and are followed by dark blue berries. M. aquifolium is much lower growing, to only 3 ft. in some places, but has the typical yellow flowers in erect spikes, followed by purple berries. Also evergreen, the leaves turn reddish in winter. They will grow in any reasonably good soil. Pruning is not required except to keep a good shape.
Two viburnums flower in winter: , or laurustinus, and Viburnum fragrans. The former makes a nicely-shaped round shrub, reaching about 9 or 10 ft., evergreen, with clusters of flowers, pink in the bud and opening to white, all through the winter. Pruning is not required. Viburnum fragrans is and makes more of a tree-like shape, rather upright. Its pink flowers start to appear in early winter and go on until spring. Their fragrance is very strong. Little pruning is required except to remove awkwardly placed or weak shoots. Both can add colour and cheer to scene at a time when it is more than welcome.