Here are ten easy-to-grow bulbs and peennials which flower in the winter months. Together these gems provide a continual succession of colour through the difficult months from December to February.

Between them, they bridge the gap between the late-season perennials such as Dhalia, Nerines and Chrysanthemum (which often continue well into November) and the main spring surge when Narcissus, forget-me-nots and Tulips take centre stage in March and April.

(All photos from my own garden)

10

Winter Flowering Perennials

Bedding Cyclamen
(Cyclamen persica)
These stylish little bedding cyclamen really brighten early winter. Although some get knocked back by frosts others persist into the New Year. Left in the ground, they may come back year after year. Good in pots too. (15 x15 cm)

Dec | Jan ○◐

Primrose
(primula vulgaris)
In my garden the wild primrose often comes into flower early in December and continues right through winter into March. the petals are more harmed by slugs than frosts. They like sun or part-shade. (20 x25 cm)

Dec | Jan | Feb+ ○◐

Christmas rose
(Helleborus x ericsmithii)
In my experience, hybrid Eric Smith’s hellebore is far more reliable than H. niger (the standard Christmas rose). Flowering begins in mid December and continues through the winter. Sun or part-shade. (40 x 50 cm)

Dec | Jan | Feb+ ○◐

Winter heather
(Erica carnea)
Flowering in January and February this lime-tolerant sub-shrub provides winter colour on the darkest winter day. It comes in many shades of pink and purple as well as white. Prefers a sunny open site (35 x 40 cm)

Jan | Feb

Snowdrop
(Galanthus nivea)
Dainty yet hardy and reliable, this perennial is best planted ‘in the green’ rather than from bulbs which tend to dry out. They thrive in a lightly shaded spot — under deciduous trees or shrubs is ideal. (15 x 20 cm)

Jan | Feb

Lenten rose
(Helleborus orientalis)
Of the numerous hybrids available, some open in January, others in February, then flower for weeks. Strangely fascinating, they are robust and reliable plants. It is best to remove the old leaves in early winter. Sun or shade.(40 x 50cm)

Jan | Feb+ ○◐●

Early crocus
(Crocus x cultorum ‘Jeanne D’arc’)
There are many early crocuses to choose from in shades of purple, yellow and white. ‘Jeanne D’arc’ flowers in sunny turf in my garden from the start of February: A favourite of early pollinators. Full sun. (10 x 10cm)

Feb

Moroccan daisy
(Rhodanthemum Marrakech)
Unexpected, perhaps, but this North African daisy starts flowering in January. Give it a free draining soil in a sunny raised bed and it will grow away strongly. The pink daisies look beautiful against the mound of blue-green foliage. (30 x 60cm)

Jan | Feb+

Spring starflower
(Ipheion Alberto Castillo)
This allium relative has white (or blue) star shaped flowers 4cm across. In my garden the first flower opened in January, but by March the plants will be smothered in blooms. After its summer dormancy fresh frost-free foliage emerges in autumn. Sun. (25 x 30)

Feb+

Early bulbous iris
(Iris reticulata)
Fleeting but stunning in February. Iris reticulata is stunning at its peak. These bulbs like an open sunny position and will flower year after year when happy. Mine grow on my green roof where they are sun-baked in summer. (15 x 10cm)

Feb

Here are ten easy to grow bulbs and perennials which flower in the winter months. Together these gems provide a continual succession of colour through the difficult months from December to February. Between them, they bridge the gap between the late-season perennials such as Dhalia, Nerines and Chrysanthemum


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