Winter doesn’t have to mean the end of scent and colour in your garden. As well as rosehips, variegated evergreens and berry bearing shrubs there are many other ways to maintain interest with colour and stunning scent throughout the colder months.
Garden structures can act as architectural features in their own right but adding some seasonal planting creates a stunning point of winter focus – here are some of our favourites.
Lovely yellow star-shaped flowers appear along leaf-less, dark green stems from December to March. With an open habit and easy to grow, Winter Jasmine can be trained across Trellis or over lattice on a structure to add a cheerful splash of colour. It can reach up to 15 feet and will thrive in well drained soil and a sunny spot.
Flowering in winter Clematis Cirrhosa is excellent source of nectar for winter insects and the delicately fragranced flecked white flowers can also be cut and added to arrangements in the house.
This robust climber will do well in a sunny or partially shaded spot and will reward with flowers from November to February once established. The flowers are followed by fluffy seed heads continue the interest and are a welcome food source for birds.
Clematis ArmandiiThis large, vigorous evergreen climber, ideal for growing on an arch or gazebo, has large glossy green leaves with a profusion of single, highly fragrant creamy-white flowers in clusters from early Spring. It prefers some protection from cold wind so plant in a protected location and mulch deeply at the base to protect the roots from frost.
While Winter Honeysuckle is not a climber like its well known cousin, it is an invaluable addition to the garden in winter bearing delicate white flowers with prominent yellow anthers. Flowering from December to March on bare stems, you should cut back established plants after flowering, removing a third of the flowering shoots.
Apply a generous mulch of well-rotted compost or manure around the base of the plant in early spring. Plant near a path or doorway, where its delicious fragrance can be enjoyed - The scent will stop you in your tracks!
Daphne OdoraNot strictly a climber, but it can be trained as one against a trellis and there are few shrubs that boast a greater perfume than the Daphne. Pink and white star-shaped flowers cluster in posies amongst glossy leaves from late winter. Daphnes are mainly hardy but will need some protection in very cold weather - an Easy Fleece Jacket is ideal. The plants can be susceptible to die-back so just lightly trim after flowering to maintain a compact habit.
Sarcococca confusa – or Christmas Box - is the perfect small evergreen shrub to plant alongside an arch or as a low hedge around a seating area. With glossy, deep green leaves, the tiny spidery cream flowers look inconspicuous but their sweet scent can fragrance the whole garden when caught on the breeze.
Flowering from December to March is followed by glossy blackberries and the Sarcococca is very hardy. In late winter or early spring lightly trim to create an even shape and apply a really thick mulch of well-rotted compost around the base of the plant.
As well as using climbers on your garden structure, try underplanting to showcase delicate winter flowers and add scent to pathways and seating areas.
Snowdrops are the first bulbs of the year to flower, heralding the end of winter – always a welcome site. There’s a variety of different types to grow, ranging from single- to double-flowered types.
Snowdrops are best planted 'in the green' directly after flowering and will spread over the course of a few years to form a magical winter carpet. When naturalising in lawns you can protect emerging bulbs from damage underfoot with a Bell Cloche or Round Plant Support.
Hardy cyclamen have silver grey leaves and dainty blooms in white, pink and red from late winter to early spring – perfect for naturalising in grass along shady paths where they can be enjoyed up close.
HeatherWinter-flowering heathers are particularly useful for insects and for bringing colour early in the year. Use in containers or plant in the ground where they will spread to form a vibrant weed suppressing blanket of colour.
Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger), is the first of the hellebores to flower, usually in January but occasionally as early as Christmas. Large, round, white open flowers rise above low-growing foliage.
It’s perfect for growing at the foot of an Arch or the entrance to an Arbour Hellebores give welcome colour in the early Spring border with colours ranging from white, green to the darkest red.
Cut back spent flowers and any ragged leaves after flowering to encourage new growth and allow the plants energy to go into developing a bigger clump for next year.
Winter aconites - or Wolf's Bane - have vibrant yellow buttercup-like flowers, surrounded by ferny rosettes of leaves from mid- to late-winter. Within a few years a clump will spread to form a dramatic yellow carpet in shady areas.
They will thrive in an alkaline hummus rich soil and tubers can be separated after flowering in the spring to propagate and expand the planting.
Pansies come in a huge variety of colours and never fail to provide a cheerful display when very little else is in flower right through from November to Spring even if planted in the depths of winter.
They are more robust than they look and can often survive even the harshest weather with their flowerheads poking optimistically out from a layer of snow. They do particularly well in full sun, so try growing in a container that you can move to catch the best of the winter rays.
Although they are perennial and can be cut back to go again next year, many treat them as annuals and simply replace in the Autumn once other container planting has died back.
If you haven't already got a garden structure an arch is the ideal structure to start with - For inspiration, read our 10 Inspirational Ways to Feature A Garden Arch article.