STAR LANDSCAPING PLANTS FOR WINTER
There are 17 species of which Helleborus niger produces the largest flowers and is one of the most easy to grow — given the right conditions. In its native habitat in the mountainous regions of central and southern Europe, Helleborus niger grows in open and woodland situations in well drained soils. They therefore do very well in shady borders and woodland gardens and also respond well to being grown in pots. The attractive white blooms with a crown of golden stamens protruding from green sepals will appear in winter and last through to early spring. They are very popular as cut flowers.
This small deciduous tree is especially noted for its glossy, copper and brown coloured bark which presents as a standout feature in any winter garden. Prunus serrula will tolerate most soils and positions, is low maintenance and its shapely canopy requires minimal pruning. Thin willow-like dark green leaves change to warm golden yellow tones in early spring, followed by abundant clusters of tiny white flowers which give way to red berries in autumn. Prunus serrula will suit all manner of garden types and is the perfect specimen tree for small gardens.
Hamamelis x intermedia
This species of witch hazel is the result of a cross between Hamamelis mollis (Chinese witch hazel) and Hamamelis japonica (Japanese witch hazel). These new varieties offer a wide range of flower colour (orange, red, pink, purple as well as a plethora of yellows), a more compact size and a greater variety of autumn leaf colour, leading to an increased usage in the landscape industry. Hamamelis x intermedia grow best in full sun to part shade. For the best effect plant against a wall or a background of dark evergreens to fully contrast the unique strap-like winter blooms.
Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’
The Dogwoods are vigorous deciduous shrubs that are primarily valued for their brightly coloured stems that bring unparalleled interest to a winter garden. Golden autumn foliage is followed by stems and branches that turn yellow at the base, changing to orange and then to bright crimson at the tips of the plant. Tiny fragrant flowers appear in spring that will bring butterflies, followed by bird attracting dark purple berries in summer. ‘Midwinter Fire’ grows to between 150 ⓖ 180 centimetres with multiple stems that bear attractive elliptic to ovate leaves. It performs best in full sun to part shade in organically rich, moist, well-drained soil. Cornus sanguinea looks fantastic when planted en masse as a border, as a hedge, or as a privacy screen. The best winter stem colour appears on new growth so it will require pruning to ground level every 2 ⓖ 3 years.
CLEMATIS ‘APPLE BLOSSOM’
Clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’
Of the many evergreen varieties of clematis that are available to gardeners these days, Clematis armandii is one of the most popular. Winter interest comes in the form of apple pink buds that form on branches before the palest of pink blossoms burst forth in spring. Flowering will continue from spring through to summer with a profusion of flowers producing a fragrant almond-like scent. Equally attractive are the deep green glossy leaves which as new growth emerge a rusty bronze colour and overlap to form a thick screen year-round. This vigorous and quick growing climber is perfect for covering a wall, fence, pergola or trellis. Preferring moist, well-drained soils, these plants like to have their heads in the sun and their feet in the shade.