If you are looking out on your garden today and, apart from your smart Trulawn and a smattering of snow, it’s looking bleak and desolute think again…maybe you should look at your planting and add some evergreen trees or shrubs that will flower in January or thereabouts so that next year and onwards you will have a view 24/7.
For vibrant red stems from November throughout the winter go for my favourite dogwood Cornus alba Sibirica. Its flowers and leaves during spring and summer are good enough before they take on autumnal hues before falling. Try planting with the evergreen ground cover shrub Euonymus Fortune for fine autumn colour.
Do you need a bit of evergreen height and width (eventually 3m by 3m) in your garden particularly in a shady area or against a fence then try Vibernum Tinus, It is a full hardy with white flowers from December to April followed by blue black fruits… leave these for the birds to enjoy, they are not for human consumption. Come the summer months Grandad will be using his as a backdrop for his perennials and ornamentals and as cloud planting, having removed the lower stems to create a tree shape.
Of similar size to the Viburnum and with glossier leaves and a definite must have for Grandad is a Camellia with its beautiful lustrous red (and some whites) blooms which depending on the variety can flower from January through to May. They prefer acidic soil. You may not know this but Grandad knows that your morning cuppa comes from the leaves of Camellia varieties primarily grown in China and India. If Indian is your favourite then say thanks to the Scot Robert Fortune. In the late 1840’s he dressed up as a Chinese peasant and ‘stole’ tea plants from the hinterland of China and smuggled them to India to start the trade in that country.
Back to the garden and how about some winter scent. Of similar size again go for the witch hazel Hamamelis (try Hamamelis mollis). Full hardy with spidery yellow flowers on the bare branches and highly fragrant from mid to late winter. Its green leaves will turn vibrant oranges and yellows in the autumn. The distilled extract from this plant (from the American species Hamamelis virginiana) is witch hazel and is an astringent and herbal remedy which is mainly used externally on sores, bruising and swelling. Incidentally, nothing to do with witches.
For stronger vanilla type scent from white flowers you need sweet box (Sarcococca confusa) near to a door or path. This will cope with dry shade and pollution. Flowers from December to March it also has lustrous green leaves. Try it in a container or at the other end of the scale use it as a hedge.
By the way if your garden is still covered in leaves now is the time to rake them up. provided they are wet put them in a black sack with some holes for airation and secure. With luck, in a year’s time you should have a bag of leaf mould to nourish your new winter flowering trees and shrubs.