Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine

True colours


Daphne flowers can perk up any garden at this time of year, writes David Overend.

Winter can be a dark and dismal place, but there are plenty of shrubs happy to bring a bit of colour – and scent – into a monochrome world. If you are prepared to have mainly foliage-inspired plantings and have a decent amount of space, consider the likes of Elaeagnus, which are grown for their leaves rather than for their tiny white flowers.

E pungens ‘Maculata’ is a hardy evergreen with yellow-splashed foliage, while E ebbingei has the added attraction of having downy leaves.

Lonicera nitida (preferably ‘Baggesen’s Gold) is another sunny-foliaged shrub, easily grown, easily pruned and very hardy. It may lose some of its brilliance in wintry shade, but it will still provide yearround interest, but because basically it’s a shrubby honeysuckl­e, forget about the flowers.

Skimmia japonica is an old favourite with its lovely dark foliage and rich red berries, which tend to stay intact throughout winter. But be aware that it does best in acidic soil.

Then there’s the lovely Viburnum davidii, which produces blue berries, and V tinus (pink buds followed by small white flowers), while Daphne mezereum, whose sweet, fragrant flowers seem to thrive in February’s bitter frosts, has a home in many a garden.

And there is another daphne that can – and often does – start to bloom even earlier, particular­ly if it has a sheltered site where it can gain protection from cold winter winds.

Daphne odora rubra is a slightly tender evergreen, surviving best where it can find shelter and make the most of what little sun there is at this time of the year. It’s not fussy about soil, as long as it’s not heavy clay and too wet. An annual mulch is much appreciate­d.

This is not a showy shrub and it can be a bit temperamen­tal in its early years, but plant it in light shade and let it establish itself and its superb scent will transform your garden.

Any plant capable of flowering in an English winter deserves a place in the garden. Which is why the evergreen Mahonia ‘Charity’ deserves a mention. It’s a very attractive, large shrub which lights up the dark months by producing longstalke­d, bright yellow flowers.

Given a decent, well-drained soil and a modicum of sun, ‘Charity’ can reach 13ft in height, although many gardeners prune it to keep it within bounds.

 ?? ?? BRIGHT SPOT: Daphne flowers bring colour and scent to the winter garden.
BRIGHT SPOT: Daphne flowers bring colour and scent to the winter garden.

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