Gardening: Everyone needs winter bloomersBy Linda Fort
November 16, 2012
The weather seems to have settled into a natural progression from autumn into winter, but the garden has recognised a hiccup in the process.
The spring flowering Weigela florida variegata is currently in bloom. It must be responding to the cold nights in October followed by two slightly warmer weeks.
It seems very little to have fooled it into thinking it is spring – but there it is, little pink flowers blooming merrily. I don’t like it that much in its rightful season, but in autumn it looks absurd.
Better at filling this gap before the winter flowering shrubs really get going is Hypericum ‘Hidcote’ which flowers on and on with its attractive golden yellow cup-shaped flowers.
It starts flowering in mid-summer and mine still had a good showing of bloom in November. The yellow flowers continue to go well with the tawny autumn colours and so its flowers are a welcome bonus as winter draws in.
As well as H ‘Hidcote’, I wish I had the hypericum which carries red berries in autumn. You often see the berries in winter bouquets called H kouytchense. ‘Hidcote’ grows enormous so, if you plant one, make sure you have the space to let it romp. It can be pruned – indeed it can be clipped like a hedge – but you lose flowers as a consequence.
Viburnum tinus is the first of the winter flowering shrubs to begin to bloom.
Mine is currently showing its subtle pinkish white flowerheads on the sunny side only, the shady side remaining stubbornly dark green.
The Mahonia japonica is covered with its long pointy flowers but they are still green and have not yet turned yellow.
The Choisya ternata, another winter regular, is still a long way off flowering.
The most fragrant of the winter wonders is the Eleagnus x ebbingei whose tiny flowers have just appeared. They make no show at all but the heady scent sends me floating through the front garden in winter. The scent is so sensational it even masks for a while the pong the neighbourhood cats leave behind.
Every bloom in winter is worth ten in summer and – as the old lady said – you can’t do without your winter bloomers.