Greenfingers… The Alan Titchmarsh column

He’s a brilliant presenter, accomplished gardener, talented novelist, and all-around horticultural inspiration. This month, Alan Titchmarsh talks about favorite flowers, plants, trees, and shrubs with the colder months in mind.

Winter’s embrace can be a time of profound beauty in the garden. Though many fear its chill, I find solace in the simple elegance it offers. And while to some it may seem like a barren season, in truth it’s actually brimming with opportunities for garden enthusiasts.

Speaking personally, it’s also that time of the year when some of my most cherished varieties appear and thrive against what is a rather plainer canvas than we are perhaps used to.

One of the first plants that springs to mind is the hellebore, otherwise known as the Christmas rose. This is a true gem in the winter garden. Its delicate blossoms defy the frost, providing soft hues of pink, white, and purple. Paired with snowdrops, they create a delightful contrast against the snow.

Another favorite of mine is witch hazel, which offers fragrant, spider-like blooms that ignite the cold landscape with shades of yellow, orange, and red. The lovely fragrance is an unexpected treat on a crisp winter’s day.

Then there’s winter jasmine, with its bright yellow flowers, supplying a ray of sunshine on even the gloomiest of days. Trained against a wall, it creates a tapestry of hope.

As far as winter shrubs and trees, these sturdy sentinels provide structure and drama to the winter landscape, so it’s definitely worth investing in some, with the fiery stems of something like the dogwood acting like brush strokes against the winter canvas. Whether red, orange, or yellow, they shine luminously, especially when backlit by the low winter sun.

Next, with its holly-like foliage and clusters of bright yellow flowers, mahonia adds texture and fragrance. A beacon for pollinators, it proves that gardens can be ecological havens even in winter.

I also adore the evergreen shrub skimmia, which produces attractive red berries and fragrant white flowers in winter. Its resilience makes it a great addition for winter interest.

Hopefully, these resilient, beautiful growers have given you an idea of what nature can still provide, even in the very coldest of conditions. My advice is to look on winter gardens as embracing the cold, rather than surrendering to it. The flowers, plants, shrubs, and trees are celebrating life in their unique way, shining with a grace and beauty all of their own.

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