Perennials & shrubs
Give your cold-season plot a warm glow with these winter-flowering perennials.
It’s true, the perennial garden can look underwhelming in winter, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Many shrubs and perennials take centrestage with their colour, texture and form. Bloom times can vary depending on where you live, but get ready to be dazzled.
Phylica pubescens is a great winter bloomer with its intriguingly fluffy flowerheads that are great for picking. In the garden, this dense evergreen shrub grows 1.2-1.5m high. It likes full sun and well-draining soil, and a sheltered spot away from frosts.
Zieria cytisoides 'Pink Crystals' is a hardy native Australian that flowers in late winter and early spring. It's easy to grow and virtually maintenance-free – it simply requires a sunny spot in free-draining soil. It tolerates wind, frost and drought. It's perfect!
Hellebores, aka winter roses, flower in speckled shades of pink, lime, maroon and white, with hybrids in pale yellow, apricot and inky purple. They flower right through winter, in full or partial shade. In frost-free areas they're evergreen; remove the old leaves in early winter.
Create a beautiful seasonal arrangement with flowers and foliage from your garden. White proteas take centrestage here and, along with other South African and Aussie shrubs, come into their own in winter. Proteas come in shades of orange, red and pink as well as the white forms that provide a touch of class. 'Almond Frost' and 'Almond Buff' are two popular white varieties, both flowering from autumn through spring and with medium frost tolerance. All proteas prefer deep, free-draining soil in full sun.
To add to your winter arrangement, throw in whatever foliage you have on hand. Here, we've used leucadendrons and an assortment of evergreens. If you want more flower power, look for thryptomene, a scented Australian plant common in frost-free Kiwi gardens and in flower in winter, or add in our hardy native myrtle, mānuka.¯ Mānuka¯ can flower for up to six months of the year, and the flowers will last up to 12 days in a vase, depending on the variety.
Eriostemon 'Profusion' is another great cut flower. This fragrant shrub has masses of tiny pink buds that open to white starry flowers in late winter. The foliage, useful as a filler, has a light apple scent.
For some, they’re a hangover from the 1970s, but proteas can be a welcome sight in a drab winter garden.