The Winter Garden: Colour In the Dark Months

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It’s January, it's dark, it's wet and cold but look at all this colour contrast! It doesn't really matter how bad the weather is you've got plants that will perform at this time of year.

So, what do I have in my little winter garden here in January?Well the first thing would be looking at foliage plants with golden leaves like this Euonymus or the Aucuba. They have coloured leaves 12 months of the year so you're always going to have something to look at. As far as flowering plants are concerned we've got big statuesque shrubs like this Mahonia here the flowers are starting to go over now, but that's been in flower in October, November, and December and there's still some colour in January. Even when the flowers are not on, the foliage is fantastic.  It's been fairly mild so the first primroses are coming out and you'll see over the next few weeks lots of different primroses, primulas and polyanthias will be coming in and they're great for this time of year.

We've also got the Skimmias, they have these tiny little flowers, this is a white and a red flowered male Skimmia as they will eventually open their tiny little flowers in March so they have a very long period of interest, great for containers.

We have a Christmas rose or Hellebore with these beautiful white flowers that much more vigorous than the old Christmas roses. They've been hybridized to be better and they will flower around about Christmas time whatever the weather is like.  Finally, one of the things you find this time of year is there a series of scented shrubs and trees where these plants grow in the wild in China and Japan they're attracting pollinators at this time of year we don't have many pollinators at this time of year; it’s a bit too cold and wet for them.


This is Hamamelis or Witch Hazel and grows into a small tree has this amazing stringy flowers the pale yellow ones are scented the darker coloured ones tend to be less scented.

Then we have the winter flowering Viburnum this is a form of bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’ there's another one called Dawn that’s slightly pinker. Again, sweetly scented and goes on flowering for ages and ages and ages you can see the buds here that haven’t even opened, fantastic plant that’s very, very hardy doesn't really matter how cold the weather is, it will still flower.

Lastly, it may look a little underwhelming but this is a Sarcococca or a winter Christmas box with tiny little white flowers but has the strongest scent of all. Plant it just outside your backdoor container and you will smell it every time you leave the house.

So, don't despair the weather's getting you down. With an amazing range of plants including of course the spring flowering bulbs like this little Tete a Tete which you can put in containers now and they'll be coming in this week ready to go. So, if you need to brighten up your garden at this time here lots of ideas in Glendoick right now.

If you need any other information about Winter flowering plants or any of the other things that we have been discussing on these videos, any aspect of gardening pop into Glendoick Garden Centre on the Perth, Dundee Road, visit our website and like us on Facebook where you'll get these videos every week when they come out."


Ken Cox is the resident Small City, Big Personality Garden columnist and expert. Born in 1964 into a family of renowned plantsmen, Kenneth Cox is grandson of planthunter, writer and nurseryman Euan Cox and son of Peter Cox VMH. The three generations were and are considered  the world's leading experts on rhododendrons. 



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