Cornus Alba 'Westonbirt'
Tips on winter gardens from Jane Moore, our award-winning head gardener at The Bath Priory
"Winter gardening is always something of a challenge, especially when it’s been as wet as it has lately. But it never seems to matter to the plants how wet, windy and frozen it gets as they’re as tough as old boots, tougher in fact than most of the old boots I’ve ever owned.
They’re built to be tough, genetically modified by generations of flowering their little hearts out in the most inclement and generally ghastly weather that is typical of the British winter. I’m not just talking here about all those lovely coloured barks and brilliant stemmed dogwoods which will cope with wind and rain but more the dainty little pretties that withstand freeze after freeze, downpour after downpour and still hold their little heads high.
These are the real winter wonders: the Oriental hellebores (pictured below) which flop with the overnight frost and gradually, magically raise their stems back up again as they thaw out. The tiny little Iris, so delicate and seemingly fragile, and the little Tete a Tete daffodils, perfect miniature versions of their later flowering, more brash cousins. Then there’s the shrubby winter flowering honeysuckle with its little flowers that make up for their scant size by the sheer volume of their perfume. That plant alone keeps the stray bumble bees well fed and happy through the winter."
Oriental hellebores or Helleborus oprientalis and Iris 'Kathryn Hodgkin'
Wintersweet or Chumonanthus Praecox 'Lutea'.
"But best of all is the Wintersweet (pictured above) with its warm yellow, waxy blooms in such abundance on those bare, twiggy stems. That’s the plant that keeps me happy through these winter months. In fact, the chances are that if it’s one of those rare, warm winters’ days, you’ll find me under the Wintersweet, standing there smelling in a cloud of its sublime scent. It’s a little sniff of the summer to come."