Wow! It seems like winter temperatures came overnight. One day I'm in shorts putzing around my yard and the next thing I know I have my Patagonias on cleaning up leaves and preparing my garden for the long winter months. I've taken a look around my homeplace and realized that much of my landscaping is for the three other seasons. Things look kind of blah around here in the coldest months. So, I decided to do a little research on plantings that like it cold. Here is a small sampling of what I found:
We are just coming off Halloween and this plant, officially known as the Hellebores, has quite a history behind it! This gorgeous winter flowering plant got its common name from the season it blooms in; Christmas. But, its reputation is tied to witchcraft and magic. It is extremely toxic and has even been linked to the death of Alexander the Great! The roses are easy to grow and can bloom anywhere from late fall to early spring. They like darker conditions (go figure) which is why they grow during the colder months while the ground is frozen and the rest of your garden is dormant (dead!) They grow well in zone 4, our zone, and are only about a foot tall at maturity.
The branches of the Winterberry bush are what you often see in Christmas decorations or in those nostalgic winter scenes of Christmases past. They bloom in late fall or even early winter, which is good since we never know if we are even going to get a Fall in Nebraska! They can grow in almost any condition, which is also a good thing for those of us not blessed with a green thumb, and they have bright red berries all over them adding a beautiful contrast to the sometimes snowy backdrop of our Omaha winters. Be careful where you plant them, though. They can grow as high as 8 feet! You also want to keep the little ones away from the attractive red fruit. While the birds love them, they are poisonous to humans.
Once Christmas is over, I don't know about you but for me, the doldrums can set in. The fast-growing, delicate yellow flowers of the Winter Jasmine might be just the thing to lift spirits. They bloom as early as January on vines that can grow 3 to 4 feet high and twice as wide. While other species of Jasmine have a sweet fragrance, the Winter Jasmine does not. Still, it is said to be easy to establish and care for and it just might give me renewed hope that Spring sunshine is around the corner.
When Christmas is over, the next holiday we turn our attention towards is Valentine's Day. The Winter Daphne, also know as the Romantic Plant, is a low maintenance shrub whose attractive white and purple flowers bloom during the mid to late winter months. They grow to about half the size of the Winterberry so they make great borders or even container plants on your front porch. And, their exotic fragrance enhances their beauty. Winter Daphne typically needs filtered sunlight and dry soil and are not really rated for our planting zone of 4 but many around here have had success with them.
I never really liked that term so I never learned much about this flower. I knew they were edible because I have seen people put them on salads and have always assumed they were a Summer only flower. But, apparently, some of them can grow around here in the winter! Pansies that bloom during the cold winter months have been bred to do so. So, if you decide to go this route, be sure to grow the Fama Series. They are also a lower growing species which grow better with less light. If you transplant pansy seedlings to your garden around mid-October you will have beautiful blooms come December that will last through the spring.
Who knew there were so many choices to brighten up our long, winter months! Now, if we can get a few more days of sunshine to give me the chance to get them in the ground...
Until Next Time...