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The List: 6 Cold Winter Wonders

Frost on sedum and grass hedges. Photo - Peter Cooper

A round up of 6 of our favourite winter plants.

1. Sedum

Botanic Name: Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’

Description: Beginning in mid-summer you can watch the large cauliflower shaped flower heads change from pale-green in bud to soft baby-pink then to deep pink through deep salmon-pink to dark coral-pink and finally, as autumn progresses into winter, rich mahogany brown. The toothed bluish leaves are handsome from early spring through summer into autumn. Tough, drought tolerant and sun loving plant.

Size: 0.8m x 0.8m

Comments: ‘Purple Emperor’ or ‘Autumn Joy’ are favourites. ‘Autumn Joy’ is most likely the best for winter frost. Prune back to ground level in early spring, when you will see the new growth sprouting. Also we are erring towards 'Matrona' for its delicable plum tones.


2. Miscanthus Grass

Botanic Name: Miscanthus transmorrisonensis

Description: The most beautiful of all the Miscanthus with evergreen leaves making eye-catching fountain-like mounds. The arching, almost weeping flower heads, displayed well above the foliage, are produced from summer until mid-winter. Sun. Needs some space to show off its beautiful form

Size: 1.5m x 1.4m

Comments: Our favourite miscanthus is ‘Flamingo’ for flower colour, but the so-called evergreen (but not really in Mole Creek!) Miscanthus transmorrisonensis for its habit which has lovely, graceful and wispy flowers. Available from Lambley’s Nursery.

Photo - Peter Cooper


3. Bergenia

Botanic Name: Bergenia ‘Bressingham White’

Description: One of the best white flowered Bergenias with good tough foliage, the old cabbage-like leaves colouring well in winter. The flower stems are held well above the leaves and have horizontal secondary stems which display the white flowers beautifully.

Size: 40cm x 60cm

Comments: We love the winter leaves of the bergenia on frosty mornings. They suit sun or shade, even quite dry shade nut a southern aspect is best.

Photo - Peter Cooper


4. Chinese Witch hazel

Botanic Name: Hamamelis x intermedia var. Arnold Promise

Description: Deciduous small tree with stunning burnt yellow spidery blooms in mid-winter. Deliciously scented.

Size: Height and spread varies with cultivars, but Arnold Promise is usually a largish shrub to small tree.

Comments: We love all the Witch-hazels, they smell like clean washing.

Photo - Peter Cooper

5. Winter aconite

Botanic Name: Eranthis hyemalis

Description: Clear yellow buttercup like flowers push through winter’s cold soil and sometimes even snow.

Size: Up to 15cm.

Photo - Peter Cooper 


6. Winter sweet

Botanic Name: Chimonanthus praecox

Description: Deciduous shrub with incredibly scented cream waxy flowers in mid-winter.

Size: Medium sized.

Comments: Wintersweet – well it’s all about the perfume. The shrub itself isn’t that great, but who couldn’t be seduced by its perfume?

Photo - Peter Cooper


Text: Peter Cooper

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Author: Peter Cooper