Brighten winter days
Want flowers for winter colour? Plant now to ensure a steady offering.
Polyanthus are a superb pickme-up for winter doldrums, with vibrant colours in almost every colour. Plant in sun or part shade in well-drained, compostenriched soil. If you have a sheltered spot, all the better, as rain and hail may damage flowers.
Brassica oleracea may be a cabbage but this white or bright purple-leafed ornamental is a hit with florists. In bouquets the long-lasting rosettes look like some sort of exotic rose, and in the garden they provide great colour. Plant seedlings or potted colour in full sun in rich, welldrained soil. You often find them in the potted colour section at garden centres.
Pansies are a cheerful addition to the winter garden too and make pretty posies for indoors. Plant seedlings or potted colour in moist, fertile soil in full sun or partial shade.
Stock (Matthiola incana) is a well-loved annual, grown for its spicy, clove-scented flowers in white, pink, lavender, rose or red. Plant seedlings or potted colour in a sunny spot in freedraining soil.
Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule) have delicate-looking paper-crepe flowers, but don’t let that fool you. They’re hardy winter-flowering annuals in cheerful shades of yellow, salmon-pink, orange and white. Plant seedlings in full sun.
Look out for beautyberry (Callicarpa bodinieri) in garden centres. This ornamental shrub has brilliant purple berries (drupes) that first appear in autumn and continue into winter. They stand out even more in winter when the leaves have fallen. Beautyberry grows best in full sun in well-drained soil. Plant more than one beautyberry for better berry set.
Now’s a great time to be looking out for cornus varieties as well, in particular those with coloured stems over winter. One such variety is Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’, which has magnificent red stems in winter. Though this plant has great interest for all the seasons. It has variegated leaves for a start, small cream flowers arranged into flat-topped inflorescences during summer, and white berries in autumn that sometimes show a hint of blue.
There’s no need to go without colour this winter. Just head to your local garden centre and see what’s in store now.
Polyanthus offer awinter pick-me-up of colour.