Colour in the Cold: 5 Wildflowers for Winter Gardens

Winter is often regarded as a quiet time for flowering. However in mild winters we may see many stunning, vibrant plants begin to flower as early as December. An unexpected eruption of colour sprouting out from an otherwise bleak garden has the ability to lift anyone with winter dampened spirits. Find below our top five winter wildflowers for the upcoming cooler months.


Wildflowers for Winter GardensThis flowering tuber is a tough, resilient plant perfect for winter gardens. Despite this the cyclamen is well known for its delightfully quaint little scented flowers. The sophisticated five petal flowers display shades of white, purple or pink.

The flower stem twists and coils into a spiral after flowering, to bring the cyclamen fruit (which also doubles-up as a seed disperser) closer to the ground for bugs and insects to feast upon.

Cyclamen are a tad sensitive to both under and over watering. Therefore ensure the plant is placed in soil that has excellent drainage and is rich in fertile, organic matter. A spot in partial sun or full shade is the perfect place to plant cyclamen.


Wildflowers for Winter GardensThe hellebore, known also as the “Lenten rose” is a gorgeous winter flower. When it flourishes with beautiful softly shaded petals you’ll know immediately spring is near. Most hellebores have small maroon dots dispersed towards the lower portion of each petal. If you want a flower that stays blooming for a long period of time, this plant is your friend. The flowers you see in January will be the same flowers you see towards mid-spring; however they will fade slightly – sometimes to a lighter shade, sometimes darker.

The hellebore prefers shaded areas. Avoid planting the flower out in the full sun. If you’ve got a spot next to your house that’s usually difficult to plant, something that’s really dark and shady, that’ll make a good place for a hellebore.

Winter Aconite

Wildflowers for Winter GardensWinter aconite is a clump-forming tuber that holds cheerful cup-shaped flowers. Their bright golden-yellow petals may seem familiar to you; the flower is a member of the woodland buttercup family.

The flowers of the winter aconite are temperature sensitive. They’ll remain tightly closed until the winter chill is over and temperatures return above 10°C. The flowers then proceed to spread open triumphantly in all their golden glory, allowing the brave early bees to feast on their delicious pollen.

Winter aconite flourishes in both direct sunlight and below deciduous trees. The plant will be happy in most soils but particularly loves moist, chalky earth.



GardensDon’t prejudge the pansy by its name. This small but hardy plant is colourful winter to spring and wonderfully easy to grow. Whilst other flowers are freezing over, this fighter remains blooming even in light snow.

Pansies are a beginner gardener favourite. They require little maintenance and are resistant to disease. The iconic round flower has five distinct petals and is one of the oldest plants to be cultivated. They have a delightful ever so slightly minty flavour and can be used to decorate salads.

Pansies must be planted in full sun well before the first frost. This will give the roots time to develop and settle. They are hungry plants and will perform well when fed frequently. Take care when watering in winter as to prevent the soil beneath them freezing.


Wildflowers for Winter GardensOkay we’ll admit this is a long shot! The snowdrop isn’t exactly the most colourful winter wildflower. However this unique bell-shaped flower deserves a mention, being the gardener’s signal that the worst of winter is over and spring is on the horizon. Its name is certainly appropriate. To many gardeners’ surprise, snowdrops may boldly emerge from the deep, warm depths of the earth even when thin, sparse patches of snow still cover the landscape.

Snowdrops are very hardy and thrive well in dappled shade. They’ll be very happy scattered between shrubbery and beneath deciduous trees. Snowdrop bulbs are perfect for planting in the autumn time, ready to burst out after the worst of winter is behind us. They prefer moist soil with lots of humus.

So that’s our run down of our top five winter hardy plants to survive the impending frosts – Happy planting! Feeling inspired? Check out National Garden Gift Vouchers who are also running a Herb Garden Competition.


Tony Stacey

Tony is Marketing Manager at the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), the organisation who administer the National Garden Gift Voucher Scheme. HTA are the leading trade association representing the UK garden industry. Tony is incredibly passionate about promoting gardening campaigns to children and non-gardeners to get the nation more green fingered and inspired to grow their own own food.

Harry Cook – wildflower planting in our area

Update 30th July – see photos at the end of this post!

Harry Cook, Thompson & Morgan trial panel member, and his wife Pat are members of It’s Your Neighbourhood with Loughborough in Bloom and look after the area called ‘The Green Belt’ around their house. Here Harry writes about the wildflowers that they’ve been planting.

Harry Cook - wildflower planting in our area

Wildflower planting in The Green Belt

Last year was the year of the wildflowers for Britain In Bloom and Charnwood Borough Council ‘Green Spaces Access To Nature’ planted up large areas of wildflowers around the town. These areas were sprayed with a specifically-targeted non-residual weed killer and then rotavated. Voluntary groups then sowed the seeds and raked them in  – we had a wonderful display for the RHS judges to see. At the end of the year the plants were mown and left for the seeds to drop and then raked off.

Harry Cook - wildflower planting in our area

Planting wildflowers

The Green Belt area by our house also had areas sown with wildflowers last year. It was mown in autumn for the seeds to drop and in spring this year l over-sowed the area by slitting the ground with a Sisis pierce. This made it easy to sow the seeds, which l mixed with dry sand then raked in with as little ground disturbance as possible. All seeds are up and looking good. We have also planted foxgloves among the wildflowers and at the side a brook that runs through the park we have a large area of ransom (wild garlic) with lovely white flowers.

Harry Cook - wildflower planting in our area

Ransoms (wild garlic)

This is a list of the wildflowers and grass seeds used:

Common Knapweed
Wild Carrot
Lady’s Bedstraw
Field Scabious
Ox-eye Daisy
Bird’s-foot Trefoil
Ribwort Plantain
Meadow Buttercup
Bulbous Buttercup
Yellow Rattle
Common Sorrel
Corn Cockle
Common Bent
Crested Dog’s-tail
Slender creeping red fescue
Smaller Cat’s-tail

Harry Cook - wildflower planting in our area

Wildflowers doing nicely


Update 30th July 2013

As you can see, the wildflowers are doing very well…

Rebecca Tute

Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

How to encourage butterflies into your garden

Whatever size your garden is, there are lots of flowers you can plant to encourage butterflies.

How to encourage butterflies into your garden

Encouraging butterflies into your garden

The recent ‘State of Nature’ report showed that common garden butterfly populations have declined by 24% in the last 10 years. In the last century, 4 butterflies and over 60 moths became extinct. Destruction of their natural habitats is partly to blame, as are changes in climate and weather and pollution.

Butterflies aren’t just there to be pretty either, they indicate whether the environment and ecosystems are healthy – areas that have high numbers of butterflies and moths are more likely to have high numbers of other invertebrates. They are also an important food source for birds, bats and other animals. Without butterflies,

The Butterfly Conservation website has  a wealth of information on what we can do as individuals to help butterfly populations.

There are many plants that will attract butterflies, many of which are perfect for growing in containers. So even if you’ve only got a small garden or balcony, you can still do your bit. In a large container (preferably at least 60cm in diameter) plant up either a buddleja or lavender plant in the middle and then surround this with a mixture of marjoram, heather, aubretia, evening primrose or sedum. Aim for 3 or 4 varieties around the ‘main’ plant, depending on the size of your container. Keep the plants well watered, so that they keep producing nectar.

If you’ve got a large garden and the luxury of space, you could create a butterfly border with a mixture of nectar plants to provide a food source for butterflies from spring to autumn. Plant as many different varieties as you can, packing the plants into your border in groups to make it easier for butterflies to locate them.

How to encourage butterflies into your garden

Grow native wildflowers

You could even create a wildflower ‘meadow’, which provides nectar for food and somewhere for the butterflies to lay their eggs. It’s quite easy to do, especially if you’ve got an area in your garden that already has some long grass growing in it. Sow some wildflower seeds in pots or module trays and once they’re ready for planting out, plant them in your wildflower meadow. Cut the grass a few times in the first year, so that the flowers don’t get smothered by it, but in following years you can leave it to grow and just cut it back at the end of the season, once the flowers have set seed.


Here are some tips on how to encourage butterflies into your garden:

  • Choose single flowers – they have far more nectar than double flowers and plant them in a sunny, sheltered spot.
  • Deadhead them regularly to encourage more flowers and, if you’re growing them in containers, keep them well watered.
  • Adding organic mulch will stop your plants drying out so quickly.
  • Avoid using pesticides, insecticides or any other garden chemicals – they kill butterflies and other beneficial insects
  • Use peat-free compost
  • Plant buddleja to attract different species of butterflies – in fact, it’s a favourite of 18 species!
How to encourage butterflies into your garden

Lunaria, sedum, lavender, honeysuckle and forget-me-not

Other flowers to include in your butterfly garden are:

See our ‘plants for wildlife‘ page for the full list of flowers to grow in your butterfly garden.

And lastly, take part in the Big Butterfly Count (20th July – 11th August 2013) to record butterflies in your area and submit your findings online.

Rebecca Tute

Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

Win a Wildflower Collection

Win a Wildflower Collection plus 10 packets of Wildflower Seed worth over £40

This competition is now closed. We’re delighted to announce that the winner is Emma Squire from Leicestershire. Please visit our main competitions page for more chances to win prizes.

Win a wildflower collection - plants and seeds - worth over £40

Win wildflower plants and seeds

This week is National Gardening Week and to celebrate we’re giving one lucky reader the chance to win a Wildflower Collection. Wildlife is on the decline and creating your own mini meadow will attract beneficial insects and birds to your garden, many of which will act as pollinators and natural pest control!

The Wildflower Collection contains 20 Postiplugs™ – 2 of each variety – of foxglove, self-heal, lady’s bedstraw, ox-eye daisy, cornflower, ragged robin, field scabious, common knapweed, meadow buttercup and teasel. PLUS you’ll receive 10 packets of Wildflower Seed worth over £40!

These wildflowers will come back year after year and create a riot of colour and interest in your garden. Sprinkle the packets of wildflower seeds amongst the plug plants to create the perfect meadow.

For more information on the Wildflower Collection please click here.

How to enter

To enter the competition simply post a comment on any of our blog posts. The competition closes at midnight (BST) on Sunday 21st April 2013.

Entry into this competition is free. By entering this competition you agree to the competition terms and conditions detailed below.

There is one prize of one wildflower collection plus 10 packets of wildflower seeds worth £40 each.

The competition closes at midnight (BST) on Sunday 21st April 2013 and the winning entry will be drawn on Monday 22nd April 2013. The winner will be notified by email by 5pm on Monday 22nd April. All entries received via comments on the blog between now and the closing date will be included for a chance to win. No cash alternative available. Thompson & Morgan UK accepts no responsibility/liability for any and all electronic, network, computer or other technical malfunctions or any human error that may occur on collecting, processing and transmission of data. In the event that comments entered for the draw become corrupted or are deemed to be unsuitable for publishing or spam, these comments will be excluded from competition. Entrants agree to be bound by these rules.

Rebecca Tute

Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

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