Q&A: Adding colour to the darkest months of the year

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Q: Have you any suggestions for perennials and bulbs to bring colour to the garden in winter? The names of a few similar shrubs would also be appreciated.

A: Glad to know someone is prepared to get out their wallet to bring added colour to the darkest months of the year.

So, consider investing in options such as Cyclamen coum, which flowers from January to March; hellebores for flowers from February to April; Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’, which, in mild winters, can bloom all through; snowdrops; Eranthis hyemalis, the lovely winter aconite that flowers in February and March; and Crocus chrysanthus ‘Cream Beauty’, another stunner for February and March.

As for winter-flowering trees and shrubs, if there’s room, consider Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis, which flowers between October and March; wonderful camellias (pictured); Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’, a stunning witch hazel that flowers in January and February; and Mahonia ‘Winter Sun’ for fragrance and flowers between November and March.

There are quite a few more out there, but unless you plant to have a “winter” garden in its own right, stick with a few to bring beacons of colour – and scent – before the advent of spring.