Winter is perhaps not best-known for it’s bright colours. The average garden largely goes into hibernation over winter, with leaves dropping and flowers dying. All too soon the view out of your window takes on a palette of dull greys and browns. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
As it turns out, there are a number of garden plants which offer colour right throughout the very coldest months of the year. Such colours can add year-round interest to your outdoor space, as well as brightening up the dull days before Christmas.
Here are some of my favourite options for winter colour…
Winter Bedding Plants
A surprising number of bedding plants will flower even in the coldest of weathers. Pansies, for example, come in a wide range of colours, and are available very cheaply from many garden centres. Grown in pots, or simply planted out in your borders, they can provide a rich mixture of yellows, reds and purples as late as December and January.
Primroses, too, start to bear their flowers in the colder months, as do snowdrops. Plant these beauties in a semi-shaded area and you’ll often see their blooms shining through the snow in January and February.
Then of course there’s the cyclamen, with it’s deep pink and purple flowers. Planted around trees, they provide a surprisingly tropical look in the depths of winter.
Winter aconites also flower very early in the year, the habit developed to absorb as much sunlight as possible before the woodland trees come into leaf in spring. Their jolly butter-coloured flowers stand out from the gloom on dark Spring days.
Sometimes known as the Christmas Rose, this is another fan of shady positions. Perhaps rather more muted in appearance than the more gaudy pansies and cyclamens, these flowers have a subtle, regal beauty about them. Plant them for their classy pale pinks, purples and yellows, which can appear over a surprisingly long flowering period.
Heather plants may all look very similar indeed to some, but this is a surprisingly diverse group of plants. Different varieties flower at different times of the year, such that it is possible to have heather in flower at almost any time of year if you choose your plants well.
The well-named “winter-flowering” heathers produce their beautiful pink and purple flowers in the depths of winter, providing sustenance for hungry insects and attractive colour in the garden.
Winter jasmine may not be the most attractive of bushes for most of the year, but in early spring these plants really come into their own. A natural scrambler, this is a plant to grow against some kind of structure like a wall or a shed. Here its evergreen foliage will quickly grow and spread, while the yellow flowers sing out from the darkness in early Spring.
Red-Barked Dogwood (Cornus alba)
Possibly the most unusual suggestion of all, the red-barked dogwood isn’t a plant of notable flowers, or even foliage. Instead, as the name might suggest, it is the bright red stems which really make it stand out in a winter garden.
These dense bushes look almost like a photograph of a firework going off, with explosions of bright red radiating out from the central crown. Plant in a group for real impact, perhaps with some of the other plants mentioned here beneath for contrast.