I am being cruel to myself in trying to decide upon which are 'my best ten winter flowering shrubs’. It is sheer stupidity on my part, for winter in the garden is one of my favourite subjects. Already I know this list is doomed to wanton expansion through lack of discipline, so please forgive.
Many winter-flowering shrubs also have other attributes, but I will restrict myself to the subject matter - most of the time! There will of course be disagreement as to what shrubs should and should not be included. In that respect, I will have enough problems with my own choice, but suggestions always welcome!
One of the least recognized attributes of most winter flowering shrubs, is their length of flowering time. Whereas many spring and summer shrubs are happy with a few weeks, many of the winter flowering shrubs are happy to give colour for a month or so. Whatever the reason for that, winter is well provided with shrub interest, yet not too many people can mention a handful of shrubs that flower in the winter – beyond the winter flowering jasmine!
Firstly, winter! When is it? I will settle for the astronomical winter of 2013-14 being December 21 – March 19. Dependent upon where you live, you might have other ideas. So be it!
In compiling this list, I have tried to be useful, for I am sure that there are many of my own favourites that would also have made the list - but not generally accepted as being the best. Much depends upon what a particular shrub means to you. I have purposely not been 'populist', but also bear in mind that most plants are deemed as 'popular' because people want them! Rare plants are rare mainly because they are not commercially viable!
The list is presented as I felt today upon writing. On another day, they may well have been a different number one - though I doubt it!
Viburnum x bodnantese ‘ Charles Lamont’. This can be a bit untidy during the year, but makes up for it during the winter months - and also with its autumn foliage.
Hamamelis x intermedia Boskoop. It would have been easy to include a number of Witch Hazels - the Red 'diane' and the orange 'Jelena'. On balance, I prefer the yellows and none more than Hamamelis mollis 'Boskoop' for a dazzling winter flower display.
Camellia sasanqua 'Cleopatra'. Camellias will be the basis of moct winter flowering shrubs lists. The C. sasanqua types are amongst the earliest, and dependable!
Daphne bholua ‘Jaqueline Postil’ . This for me, is the most gorgeous of winter scents - and there are many. It also makes for a good display of flowers and leathery evergreen foliage.
Edgeworthia chrysantha. Long flowering and not often planted, so thought I would bring this to your attention.
Sarcococca humilis. The first thing you notice is the heady scent. then you just have to hunt the source out.
Pieris japonica 'Valley Rose'. The lily of the valley Shrub, is better known these days for the scarlet young foliage. They all have good flowers at some time in the winter, and this one is superb - regardless of weather.
Skimmia x confusa Kew Green. Whilst many of the Skimmias are good for winter berries, Kew Green is good for a very long flowering period throughout most of the winter months.
Stachyurus praecox. Not often seen, but is superb against a wall or as free standing shrub.
Erica carnea Springwood White. There are so many other good Erica carnea types. this one scraped in to give a white!
Jasminum nudiflorum - How could I possibly miss this winter flowering Jasmine out of this list. It may be old, but is still one of the best
Twelve in all, and had to miss a few out! (Some other Winter flowering shrubs contenders below.)
Viburnum tinus Eve Price
Lonicera fragrantissima - One of two good Winter Flowering Honeysuckles
Prunus subhirtella Autumnalis.
Garrya elliptica - The Silk Tassel Bush