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What flowering shrub will liven up my winter garden?

Val Bourne / 14 January 2019

Gardening expert Val Bourne recommends some of her favourite winter-flowering shrubs.

Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill'
Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill'


My garden always looks a little dull in winter, could you recommend some good winter-flowering shrubs?


Winter flowers are a real joy and many are highly scented and good to pick. If you’ve room go for wintersweet, Chimonanthus praecox, because the almost-translucent yellow and tomato-red flowers, appear on bare branches. It’s highly scented, much hardier than it’s given credit for, and it picks well. It does look scruffy in summer and winter honeysuckle, Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ shares the untidy summer look. The ivory-white flowers, which appear slightly before the foliage, have a honeysuckle fragrance that’s highly appreciated by any early flowering bees.

The best, heavily-scented small evergreen is Christmas Box and Sarcococca confusa combines rich-green foliage and ivory-white cluster of flower. Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’, a columnar evergreen with waxy pink January flowers, is glorious although it needs a sheltered spot. I’d also find room for Viburnum x burkwoodii, for its later, lily-scented roundels of blush-white flowers. Finally, if you’ve got deep soil, the spidery, freesia-scented lemon-yellow witch hazel, Hamamelis x media ‘Pallida’, is superb in January. Always buy witch hazels in flower and do sniff them.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.