Winter can be bleak but it doesn’t have to be. With judicious planting a winter garden can provide welcome relief from the gray cold day that plague most of during the winter months. Winter is the season to enjoy the virtues of some plants you might have overlooked if you have been focusing just on the traditional ‘growing season’.   The choice of plants, however, must be done carefully so that they fit into to the overall scheme of the garden and leave room for plants that will shine in other seasons.  All of the shrubs suggested below are attractive in other seasons but their primary contribution is in winter when they bloom. Because of the cool temperatures, the flowers that appear will tend to last a relatively long time and so a few well chosen plants will go a long way to making a pleasant winter garden.  Consider planting bulbs too;  some bloom in winter and will remain until the spring bulb display begin. Photo Credit Wikipedia

Winter Daphne (Daphne odora)

With its shiny leathery evergreen dark green leaves and very fragrant rosy-purple to pink flowers, winter Daphne is a treasure in a winter garden, but only if you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 and 9. Otherwise you will have to wait until March for the outstanding display.

Flower Color: Rosy purple to pink
Size of Plant: 4-6′ H x 2-4 W
Light: Part shade to full sun
Hardiness: Zones 7-9

Chinese Paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha) 

Clusters of soft yellow flowers are borne on leafless stems from silver buds set in late summer. The flowers have a gardenia-like fragrance and are set off well by the bold bluish foliage that is attractive all summer. Photo Credit Roozitaa Wikimedia Commons

Flower Color: Yellow
Size of Plant: 4-6′ H x 4-6′ W
Light: Part shade to full sun
Hardiness: Zones 7-10

Winter Heather (Erica carnea)
Winter heather forms a neat evergreen mound that looks good in a rock garden or as a ground cover. When in flower the entire plant is covered with small pink flowers, especially attractive when snow covers the ground. Although it prefers acid, peaty, moist soil, it will tolerate slightly alkaline conditions. Photo Credit Wikipedia

Flower Color: Pink
Size of Plant: 6-12” H x 6-18” W
Light: Full sun to part shade
Hardiness: Zones 5-7

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis mollis)
When the fragrant ribbon-like flowers reveal themselves on leafless stems they light up the whole garden. They are good cut flowers and can be brought indoors where their fragrance can be enjoyed. The plant grows slowly and can be kept to a reasonable size by careful pruning. A nice bonus is its good fall color. Photo Credit Wikipedia

Flower Color: Yellow
Size of Plant:10-15’ H x 10-15’ W
Light: Full sun to part shade
Hardiness: Zones 5-8

Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)
Winter jasmine can be grown as either a sprawling shrub or a vine. If given support it will make a great show on the side of the house or an a wall but looks equally attractive as a ground cover. Superficially, it looks similar to forsythia when in bloom with its bright yellow flowers. The name “jasmine” conjures up thoughts of fragrance but this jasmine has no scent. Still, it’s a fine plant and well worth growing. Photo Credit Wikipedia

Flower Color: Yellow
Size of Plant: 10-15’ H x 3-6’ W
Light: Full sun to part shade
Hardiness: Zones 6-10

Laurustinus Viburnum (Virburnum tinus)
This handsome, upright shrub offers lustrous dark green leaves all year and pink buds that open to waxy white fragrant flowers in winter. Blue-black fruit follows and persists into spring. Does well in moist, well-drained soil but tolerates drought. Unfortunately it is only for gardens in zones 7b and warmer. Photo Credit Wikipedia

Flower Color: Pink buds open to white flowers
Size of Plant:6-12’ H x 6-10’ W
Light: Sun to part shade
Hardiness: Zones 7b-10

Click here to read about early blooming bulbs.

By Karen