We are so fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest where gardening is a four-season sport. With a can-do attitude, some waterproof gloves and boots, you can tend your garden deep into autumn and the beginning of winter.
Thanks to our milder climate, there is an amazing collection of winter and early spring-blooming shrubs and perennials that reward us with fragrance and flowers and brighten our grey winters.
One of the most versatile and easy-to-grow, cold-weather bloomers is Hellebores. Also called Lenten or Christmas Rose, these charming, mostly evergreen perennials are beloved by collectors because there are so many colorful varieties to choose from. Take your pick from a variety of bloom times, from early winter through spring. With just a modest collection, you can light up your beds and containers with flowers all winter long.
Cold tolerant Cyclamen is a winter container favorite. Their pink, red, purple and white comet-like flowers and leaves with contrasting veins add texture and color when other bloomers are dormant. Combined with small conifers in containers, they add radiance to your front porch on frosty winter mornings.
If you’re looking to make more of a statement, there are countless evergreen shrubs that flower and add fragrance to fight the winter blues. With their long-lasting blossoms, Pacific Northwest favorite evergreen Sasanqua camellia adds a pop of color as they bloom in the heart of winter and ask for every little in return.
Silhouetted against cloudy winter skies, fragrant Witch Hazels, Hammamelis, burst with red, orange or yellow blossoms that look like sizzling fireworks. They are large deciduous shrubs or small trees and produce their flowers on bare stems during the winter, after their leaves have fallen. Yellow, orange, or red flowers are fragrant in varying degrees. Easy to grow and problem-free, Witch Hazels thrive in full sun. Fall colors of red, orange, and/or gold are a bonus!
Sarcococca, also known as Sweet Box, has three species with fragrant, white flowers borne in February/March. All are evergreen and shade-loving. They are drought tolerant once established, and can take partial sun, but not full sun. Flowers are followed by black or red berries.
Winter Daphne, or Daphne odora, is a shade-loving evergreen shrub that bears fragrant flowers in February. Flowers are borne in clusters on the tips of branches; buds are dark pink, opening to sparkling, light pink, four-petaled flowers. These flowers give off a powerful spicy fragrance for several weeks in late winter. Grow it where you can frequently appreciate the fragrance, like near a walkway or entrance.