winter-flowering clematis

Winter Flowers

There’s still a little colour here in winter – just a few brave plants that choose to flower when it’s cold and grey. They brighten up the days and offer something to any bees that are awake and foraging.

It’s a pleasure to be able to wander into the garden to see the latest buds to have opened. Whatever helps to encourage me to go outside at this time of year has to be a good thing. Being rewarded by beauty and colour makes it easier to get started on some gardening.

winter-flowering iris
winter-flowering iris

As I enter the garden I’m pleased to see that a winter-flowering clematis is festooned with small bell-shaped blooms that have a deep red interior. To see the colour of these, you really need it to be growing above your head, so I have planted it to climb into a tall shrub (Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’, shown last week). The clematis was planted only last year, so isn’t very big yet. But I’m happy just to see it alive and growing, because it was in a position that meant it could easily have been destroyed when the fence was replaced earlier in the year.

Further along the same border is the winter jasmine. The work of replacing the fence meant that this had to be cut back a lot, but it will recover in time. (It was a terrible straggly mess, all tangled up with a rampant honeysuckle that had started to look very unhealthy.) I had to give several shrubs and climbers a rather drastic pruning so that the fence could be got at. This has made me realise that I need to be more practical in the way that I plant the garden.

Melted frost on winter jasmine flowers.

Not far from the winter jasmine is an area planted with shrubs and a few garden thugs (mainly Japanese anemones and a very vigorous geranium). Hiding amongst these is the pretty lavender-blue Algerian iris. (Iris unguicularis – I can’t spell it without checking the RHS site.) This needs to be moved to somewhere where it can be more easily seen and photographed…my knees and back will be grateful for that! The flowers are delicate and easily damaged by the weather but they are soon replaced by more, so certainly earn their place in the garden.

As I continue towards the back of the garden, my attention is drawn to the mahonia with its great sprays of bright yellow flowers. This shrub is an extremely prickly monster and must be approached with great caution when working around it. It often stabs at me in a very ungrateful manner while I am trying to weed around its base. But I forgive it because it can look spectacular and its big spiky leaves give it a very bold, ‘architectural’ appearance all year round.

I had intended to add some new winter-flowering plants this year, but obviously that hasn’t been possible. (I suspect that many gardeners may be tempted to have quite a spending-spree when we can shop freely for plants again!) For the moment I am content to enjoy what’s already here. This is a quiet time in the garden and staying at home means I have plenty of time to plan future plantings. I hope that means I’ll be all organised for spring and summer…haha! (That would be a first!)

Mahonia x media ‘Charity’

18 thoughts on “Winter Flowers

    1. Thank you for the lovely comment! πŸ™‚ I’m certainly committed to the garden but I’m really just a learner – and trying not to kill off too many plants!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Indira! There aren’t very many flowers out there at this time, but these few really lift my spirits. πŸ™‚

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  1. Hi Ann – looks like you are coping well with your winter garden! The Mahania shrub looks like it could be a Florida plant. I have a bunch of Foxtail Ferns that look a little like it and will take over my yard if I am not careful. Love the yellow in the Jasmine flowers. Keep yourself warm and safe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Syd! I’m getting a little bit of work done in the garden – just until I start to get cold. It feels good to be able to get out there for a little while. Your Foxtail Ferns sound interesting, but I know how much trouble plants can cause when they want to take over – I have a few that do that! I hope you’re staying safe and healthy. πŸ™‚

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      1. The Foxtail Ferns send out runners underground and go everywhere. They go pretty deep so you have to actually dig them out with a shovel. I thought I would love the plant, but who knew they were so aggressive?

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      2. It’s really difficult when you get a plant like that – they can be almost impossible to remove. We have a grass – a sedge that is often grown by water – that just spreads everywhere if it gets a chance. It was in the garden when we arrived and looked fairly innocent – but wasn’t! It seeds everywhere and is very hard to dig out.

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    1. It is, Jude – and despite it’s prickliness, I really like it. Years ago, the previous owner of the house looked over into our garden from the neighbouring one, to see what changes we’d made. He was horrified to see that we had removed his beloved laurels and left the mahonia. Tastes differ, hehe!

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      1. It was the dullness of the laurels and the fact that they seemed to be taking everything from the ground that bothered me – and that they never change. Though we do still have one huge laurel that’s more of a tree. We cut it back a bit and I’ve grown a wisteria into it – much more fun! πŸ™‚

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  2. Nice to see your winter flowering plants. I bought winter jasmine twice to put in two gardens but have no room where I live now. Winter jasmine for my own Christmas baby Jasmine 26 years ago. Hopefully the weather will warm up enough soon to tempt you into the garden.

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    1. It’s a pretty iris but hard to see here because there are a lot of leaves and because I have big plants around it. (I can do something about that! πŸ™‚ )

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  3. The Mahonia reminds me of our foxtail fern. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, but then I noticed that it’s a cultivar, and that probably explains that. I don’t spend much if any time in gardens, so (as you know) I’m fairly inexperienced with garden varieties.

    I did look to see if there were Mahonias here, and there are. This is Mahonia swaseyi, a Texas native!

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    1. It impresses me to see how many native plants there are in Texas! And I can see that the mahonia has the typical spiky leaves and yellow flowers, rather like the smaller garden mahonias you get here.

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