Plants For Winter Interest

Looking out into the garden in the winter needn’t be dull and dreary.  With a little bit of thought and planning our gardens can lift the spirits on the darkest of days.  On frosty mornings plants take on an almost magical appearance when tinged with white and glistening spiders webs.  Even if it’s just a few pots filled with winter pansies or early bulbs to come through, we can add charm and beauty to the garden in the depths of winter.  Inspiration can be found by visiting open gardens at different times of the year and, of course, we always have lots of seasonal displays at Poplar to give you plenty of ideas.  

With many herbaceous perennials beneath the soil at this time of the year we need to think of plants that will add interesting displays throughout the winter season such as decorative seed heads with grasses and evergreens.  Colourful dogwoods (Cornus) are at their best in winter with their scarlet or bright yellow stems.  Prune them hard in spring to encourage the bright young shoots.  

There are some shrubs that bloom in winter including Mahonias, witch hazels (Hamamelis) and scented winter box (Sarcococca).  For evergreen interest and structure try adding some conifers – there are even blue and gold leaved forms that will add extra colour to the garden.  Camelia Sasanqua Yuletide is well worth a mention for it's evergreen polished looking leaves and gorgeous scented flowers.  Skimmias are neat, evergreen shrubs that will add winter interest to borders, but are also used extensively in containers, where they are often planted with winter pansies or heathers and perhaps a touch of trailing ivy.  They bear clusters of tight buds throughout the winter, followed by fragrant spring flowers and berries on female plants. 


One of the most beautiful winter plants is the Hellebore (Christmas rose) with their nodding flowers from late winter to spring when they are a source of food for pollinating insects.  Some have attractive silver or marbled leaves and many are evergreen.  Hellebores will do well in most soils, but do prefer fertile, evenly moist, but free-draining soil in light shade, although some can be planted in a sunnier spot as long as the soil isn’t prone to drying out. 


Early spring bulbs such as snowdrops make welcome displays in the depths of winter and give us a glimpse of all that is to come.  If you didn’t get a chance to plants any during bulb planting season in early autumn, they will be available as potted spring bulbs here at Poplar  from week commencing 15th December and there is nothing more exciting and inspiring than going out into the plant area and seeing their shoots appearing, signalling the start of the new seasons ahead.  Snowdrops (Galanthus) are amongst the first to show themselves with their drifts of graceful white bell-shaped, nodding flowers at the end of erect flowering stems.  They love to shelter in dappled shade in moist, well drained soil.  It is important that the soil does not dry out in the summer, so add some leafmould or garden compost when planting.  They will soon multiply into drifts, providing wonderful displays.   Other early flowering bulbs such as Narcissus (Daffodil) February Gold will also bridge the gap between late winter and spring with their rich yellow blooms.  

Planted containers:

At Poplar Nurseries we always have selections of winter flowering planted containers to add instant seasonal interest in the garden and they will also make welcome Christmas gifts for gardeners during the festive season.