Upon returning home after spending a few days on the coast recently, it “hit home” to me how grey and colourless gardens in our region can be in winter. This prompted me to write about what we can grow in our gardens in this region to give us more colour at this bleak time of year.
Annual plants that we can fill beds and pots in the garden with and that will give us flower colour now include violas, pansies and polyanthus.
Perennial shrubs that flower now or over the next month or so, include camellias (japonicas for shady, protected spots; sasanquas for more sunny spots), daphne (beautiful fragrance) and flowering quince (chaenomeles). This latter, deciduous shrub that comes in white, pink and red flowering forms is amongst the most eye catching and hardy winter flowering shrubs.
Another evergreen shrub that is less well known in our region, is erica-commonly known as heath or heather. They generally have small, needle like leaves and there are a range of cultivars with white, pink and red flowers in winter.
Hellebores, commonly known as winter roses, are great for shady spots in the garden and are beginning to come into flower in my garden now. We all know the old fashioned cultivars that produce reddish, downwards facing flowers. There are some new cultivars and hybrids that I got into the nursery from a Victorian grower recently, that range from pure white to deep purple and variegated flowers.
A couple of Australian native shrubs that flower in winter are worth considering too. Correas are available as cultivars that produce bell shaped white, pink or red flowers.
Wax flower (Philotheca) is a hardy Australian native shrub that gets covered in pink buds at this time of year that open to lovely, star shaped white flowers.
Finally, we shouldn’t overlook the old fashioned Nandina which comes in a couple of dwarf forms that grow to less than a meter high and whose foliage turn bright orange/red in winter. Great, hardy border plants with eye catching colour.
Millthorpe Garden Nursery