Hydrangeas have power to brighten winter

CAPTION: ON GUARD: The old flower heads of Mophead hydrangeas help protect new growth.

CAPTION: ON GUARD: The old flower heads of Mophead hydrangeas help protect new growth.

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It’s December next week; we’ve had frost, we’ve had snow and, no doubt, there will be plenty more of both came from.

Yet, despite winter trying to make it as unpleasant as possible for the garden and the gardener, there are some flowering plants that are still blooming and look as though they will continue to do so for weeks to come.

The likes of Echinacea purpurea, Saxifraga fortune, Viola odorata, Anenome japonica, Phlox paniculata, Sedum spectabile, many asters and Centranthus ruber, the lovely red valerian, which begins to bloom in early summer and carries on doing so well into late autumn, are all ticking the right boxes right now.

Certain roses have always been able to beat the freeze, and there are varieties of fuchsia that never know when to give up.

But there are also certain plants that join the great sleep yet still manage – perhaps unwittingly – to bring colour to even the darkest and dankest of months.

Ladies and gentleman, I bring you hydrangeas and, in particular, the Mopheads, which, come the onset of winter, are often best left on the plant.

The flowers may be to all intents and purposes dead, but some will retain their colour and stick around until next spring, bringing a bit of joy to the gardener and also helping to protect the buds.

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