Winter is often regarded as a time of quiet dormancy in the garden. But with warming winters, some wild flowers now come into bloom as early as December, a trend which is set to continue. Here are five native and naturalised wildflowers that provide colour and interest during the cooler months.
For more inspiration, see our full range of bulbs, corms and tubers and enjoy a succession of cheerful flowers all year round.
The hellebore, known also as the “Lenten rose” is a gorgeous winter flower with softly shaded petals whose blooming often predicts the imminent arrival of spring. Long-flowering, it’s not uncommon to see hellebores first appear in January and remain in flower until the middle of spring when they’ll sometimes lighten or darken in colour. Avoid planting hellebores in full sun – if you’ve got a spot next to your house that’s really dark and shady, that’s usually a good spot for a hellebore or two.
2. Winter Aconite
A member of the woodland buttercup family, winter aconite is a clump-forming tuber that holds cheerful bright yellow blooms. These temperature-sensitive flowers remain tightly closed until the mercury rises above 10°C which is their cue to open triumphantly in all their golden glory. A must for wildlife gardeners, winter aconite is an important source of pollen for brave early bees. This wild tuber flourishes in both direct sunlight and below deciduous trees and, while happy in most soils, particularly loves moist, chalky earth.
3. English Bluebells
An iconic woodland favourite, nothing beats the sight of our native English bluebells nodding softly in the breeze. A very hardy plant whose flowers are a magnet for bees and other pollinators, plant them as part of your informal grassland area and watch them multiply over the years to form beautiful drifts of blooms. Bluebells grow in hedges and lawns, as well as containers, and particularly love the dappled shade of deciduous trees.
To many gardeners’ surprise, snowdrops may boldly emerge even when thin, sparse patches of snow still cover the ground. An extremely resilient little plant, snowdrops are happy when scattered between shrubbery and beneath deciduous trees. Plant your snowdrops during the autumn into moist soil with plenty of humus, and you’ll be set to enjoy a delicate spectacle as winter fades.
5. Cyclamen coum
Native to Europe and the Mediterranean, but naturalised across much of the south of England, this flowering tuber is a tough, resilient plant perfect for winter gardens. Well known for its delightful reflexed petals and silvery marbled leaves, the flower stem twists and coils into a spiral after flowering to bring the fruit closer to the ground for bugs and insects to feast on. To get the best from cyclamen, plant them in well-drained, fertile soil in partial sun or shade.
We hope our favourite winter wildflowers inspire you to get busy planting your own winter-flowering garden. For more plants which bloom during the months of short days and chilly nights, check out our winter flowers hub where you’ll find plenty of inspiration.
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