Shrubs With Winter Interest
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’:
This is one of my favourite shrubs. There is nothing more magical than seeing a mass of these fiery, spindly little flowers in the dead of winter, lighting up a naked, twiggy patch of shrubbery in the garden. Another of its beautiful features is its stunning autumn colour – the leaves glow when the winter sun shines through them, like the embers of a fire. Although for the rest of the year Hamamelis is not as special, it works well as a back-of border shrub, and completely earns its place in the garden during our darkest season, bringing colour and excitement to the plainest of gardens.
This might seem an obvious choice for a shrub with winter interest, but I personally think it depends on how and where you use it, so as to reach its full potential. Its bright red stems have a brilliant impact in any winter garden and look at their most wonderful when planted in the following positions: In front of large evergreen shrubs (dense, dark green foliage makes for a great back-drop); amongst the bright white stems of Betula jacquemontii (the contrast of the vivid red and white is stunning); or planted in ‘ribbons’ throughout the landscape or in a large border (mass planting of this shrub will be striking in any situation).
Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’:
I have chosen this shrub for a couple of reasons; to start with, it has such beautiful form with its curled, contorted stems that I actually think it is at its most magnificent whilst completely leafless! It also brings interest to any border during the stark winter months and is particularly attractive when coated in sparkling frost in the early morning sun. Secondly, the long, elegant, pale golden catkins that drip from it’s twisted branches in February and March bring colour to the garden in an alternative way to the usual winter flowers and coloured stems …
Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’:
This is such a delightful shrub! I love the shape the flowers form in their dense little clusters—the shrub looks as though it is covered in pink pom-poms… And there is something very spring-like about dark pink buds opening to pale pink flowers that seem to bring a bit of life to the winter months! This shrub has such a long flowering period for the winter, starting in November, and not ceasing until March. It’s best planted not too far from an entrance or pathway, so you can fully appreciate the exquisite fragrance of the delicate flowers.
This is a fabulous semi-evergreen shrub with rich green, purple-flushed leaves, that quite often will last the winter through—if we get a particularly cold winter, the shrub will drop its leaves just as deciduous plants do. It flowers from January to March, and its blossom is creamy-white and very highly scented. This plant can easily be kept as a medium shrub, but may flower more profusely if trained as a wall shrub against a warm, sunny wall.
From left to right: Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’, Cornus alba, Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’, Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ (Photo: Everystockphoto “Dawn Viburnum”/Resized from original), (Photo: Wikipedia “Lonicera_fragrantissima“/Resized from original).