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Winter Warmers!

Warm your winter with some radiant plants!

One of the things that we all need during winter is warmth. Most of us are fortunate to have centrally heated homes or at least a heater of some sort around which to huddle when skies are grey. But warmth and cheer don't always go together. There's nothing visually soothing about a radiator.

Rusty old radiators don't have much charm! This is where the garden plays an important role in winter warmth. There are plenty of bright and beautiful sights to cheer you from the inside, out and none more so than Mahonia.  These shrubs, you might think, belong to your granny. But Mahonia are back with a flourish and not without good reason.

From autumn right through to spring, the yellow racemes of Mahonia media shine like rays of brilliant sunshine. And they have a most delectable scent! If you had to choose just one plant for the winter garden, this really should be a contender.  

Mahonia 'Winter Sun' looks like a giant ran of sunshine, even on the darkest day! The reason why Mahonia are now revered is because of a fortuitous offspring of Mahonia lomarifolia and Mahonia japonica which were being grown close to each other some 65 years ago in Northern Ireland. The resulting hybrid was named Mahonia x media 'Charity' and it is now deemed to be one of the best of all evergreen flowering shrubs. Of course that accolade is subjective, but once you have sniffed a bloom you might well agree. Winter-scented shrubs seem to produce a perfume that carries astonishingly on the crisp air and you are likely to smell this plant even before you see the glorious glow.  

Mahonia 'Charity' is another brilliant variety of this gorgeous winter warmer A gentleman called Lionel Fortescue in Devon then set about making more Mahonia crosses and he thereafter spawned the varieties 'Lionel Fortescue' and 'Buckland'. 'Winter Sun' is another variety that originated around the same time. All these marvellous Mahonias will tolerate chilly conditions down to -15 degrees C or so and they will grow in sun but prefer some light shade. What else might you like about these heart-warming plants? The ease of maintenance is hard to beat they can be pruned hard if you want to keep the size in check.  They have rosettes of handsome, holly-like leaves. What's more, the blooms provide valuable nectar for wildlife during a time of year when there is little else around.  Then there are ornamental, deep purple berries which will also attract birds. Plant Mahonias with a little ground cover to hide their bare legs and enjoy the show!   Other winter wonders No winter garden is complete without hardy cyclamen. Naturalised under trees, these cheery, resilient perennials provide colour when little else is flowering even in late winter through to early spring.  Aside from the shuttlecock-shaped flowers, the marbled foliage looks beautiful too, and they can be planted in association with other woodland plants including snowdrops and winter aconites.

Cyclamen look wonderful when they are naturalised under trees. Then there are hellebores! If you become bored with the traditional Christmas plants such as holly and ivy,  Helleborus will be your saviour! They are both subtle and sumptuous, with nodding heads which have a naturally down-turned nature.  

Hellebores are heavenly - and their moment of glory lasts for ages. Resplendent shrubs include many berry-bearing beauties including Viburnum opulus, otherwise known as the guelder rose; the beautiful spindle tree (Euonymus europaeus) with its clashing coloured berries of orange and pink;  roses with hips including the wild dog rose (Rosa canina),many different Pyracantha and Cotoneaster with their wonderful shining berries.

Euonymus Europaeus - its clashing colours warm the heart! All these will make your heart sing as loudly and cheerfully as any Christmas carol!  Keep out the cold! Sing carols... and enjoy the garden!

By Perfect Plants


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